Sacramental reality is no less real than sensible reality

I hammered out and sent in a column for The Wanderer today.  Here is something I included this week (modified for the blog):

Latin Fathers such as St. Leo the Great saw the season of Lent  in sacramental terms.

The whole season of Lent is a transforming mystery, a “sacrament”, during which our practices have consequential effects: they bring us into the mystery of the dying and rising Jesus.  This transforming bond with Christ is brought about through denial of self and good works for others, penitential mortification and works of mercy, both spiritual and corporal.  In Lent the words of the Baptist must ring in our ears daily, even hourly: “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30).   When He increases in us, we are more who we are supposed to be.  Thus, we have to make “room” for Him by our self-denial.

Remember!  Sacramental reality is no less real than the sensible reality we normally pay attention to.

When we participate actively in Lenten practices, God the Father conforms us to His Son who died and rose.  During Lent each year the Church conforms herself to the dying and rising Jesus.  This is why traditionally the Church stripped the liturgy of its ornaments: music and all decorations such as flowers.  On Passion Sunday (the Sunday before Palm Sunday) statues and images would be draped and hidden.  Bells would disappear on Good Friday and there was no Mass at all. The Mass experiences a liturgical death so that at Easter, when everything returns ten-fold, our joy can be that much sweeter, the flowers that much more florid, the music that much more splendid, the church that much brighter.  In our Collect today we ask God to make these annual disciplines and exercises effective in our lives so that we can have the joy which the deprivations promise.

Have a plan for your Lent.  Open up to the graces the Lord offers you through sacramental confession, Holy Communion, prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Out Lenten discipline must includes penitential practices and works of mercy. During Lent let your life mirror the Lord’s Passion in preparation for the Resurrection.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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3 Responses to Sacramental reality is no less real than sensible reality

  1. Dr. Eric says:

    Pray

    Fast

    Give Alms

  2. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Has anyone (not forgetting the detailed work of Pius Parsch) written anything succinct about the interrelations of liturgical year and Eucharistic Celebration (something like Thomas’s sermon in Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’, but then with a survey of the year)?

    “The Mass experiences a liturgical death” – and yet, at the same time, in the every celebration moving toward Good Friday, still always quite the opposite. (With a extra ‘complexity’ in liturgies of “the Presanctified”.)

    While “on Good Friday […] there was no Mass at all”, the sign of thc Cross (as Frits van der Meer notes) is not mourned but revered, and the Church prays intensely for the good of all.

  3. Centristian says:

    “The Mass experiences a liturgical death so that at Easter, when everything returns ten-fold, our joy can be that much sweeter, the flowers that much more florid, the music that much more splendid, the church that much brighter. In our Collect today we ask God to make these annual disciplines and exercises effective in our lives so that we can have the joy which the deprivations promise.”

    Very well expressed. Very “Parsch” I would say.