A great Lenten observation by Fr. Blake

Great phrase from Fr. Blake of St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton:

"Lent is not an orgy of Pelagian self improvement"

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  1. Oneros says:

    That’s why I gave up guilt for Lent. Guilt is a self-righteous sort of emotion.

  2. James Locke says:

    ehh guilt is a natural reaction to sin. It is a good thing. Wallowing in your guilt after confession however is not. Give up wallowing in self destructive pity instead.

    And how is exactly is an emotion self righteous? I mean anger, happiness, etc can all be self righteous too….

  3. Tim Ferguson says:

    That’s one reason why, when I give something for Lent (like chocolate, or pop, or TV), I make a point of indulging in it on Sundays (and Solemnities). That way I don’t run the danger of pride in thinking I made it through 40 days.

    It’s not an endurance test, it’s not a time to prove just how strong I am, but rather to realize how much I need to depend on God, and how much (when left to my own devices) I let other things get in the way of my reliance on Him. Truly, I am dust, crafted by His gracious will into His won image. Humbling thought.

  4. Jordanes says:

    Not an orgy of Pelagian self-improvement??? Tell that to whoever composed that awful tune, “Ashes” — “We rise again from ashes TO CREATE OURSEVLES ANEW.”

  5. Jordanes says:

    Oh drat, I spelled “ourselves” wrong . . . .

  6. AJP says:

    Wow Jordanes, good catch! I never noticed just how close to heresy that dreadful dirge is – but yeah that’s about as clear a statement of Pelagianism in 20th 1970s-psychobabble as you’ll find.

  7. Jordanes says:

    They were going to sing “Ashes” at the all-school Mass at one of our diocesan high schools yesterday, but the chaplain nixed it due to its Pelagianism. Score another one for Holy Mother Church!

  8. Melody says:

    Personally, making it through forty days without something always makes me both proud and slightly embarrassed for “needing” that thing so much normally.

    How to draw the line? I would love further elaboration.

  9. JonM says:

    Last night on EWTN, the episode of Mother Angelica Classics dealt with Lent and mortification.

    Mother was quite vocal on how people approach Lent and that in her mind it is a shame that we always want to give up some kind of food or drink. She emphasized the need for prayer during this season so that we can unite with Christ more.

    I do think that Father Blake is on to something: “I gave up beer…she gave up donoughts…he gave up coffee…” Do we really understand the reason behind the sacrifice or are we turning Lent into a diet season?

    Certainly giving up food can be rightly directed to uniting more with Jesus. Like this Wednesday, I did not eat anything and thought about all day how Christ was jailed without any food. And, how he wandered the desert alone and without supplies while the devil tried to tempt Him. And He still resisted.

    And I thought about how after not even a day I was getting weak, thinking about how in weakness I have not lived up to Jesus’ refusal to turn from temptation.

    Like so many of the challenges today, the misuse of Lenten discipline comes down to how much we make everything about us. Thus the Pelagian comment is very good.

  10. pauljk says:

    Personally, I would not consider the Lentern fast as being optional, despite the current law. Of course, there are those who are unable to fast due to medical reasons, but then the Church has never exacted from people more than they are able to give. However, Lent isn’t necessarily about taking on more things, but rather increasing the intensity of our usual practices and devotions. The fast aids us in that. Thus we become less attached to the worldly and become more focused on spiritual things.

  11. Sixupman says:

    One of the more profound prayers of The Church is that of the Tract used during Lent: ” Lord repay us not …… .” I do not know if it is used in the NOM Missal? Another underrated [if such a phrase might be used] prayer is that of the Incensing: ” Let my prayer be directed …… .”. Is this in the NOM Missal? For Holy Week I use a manual which was in use in the 1940s.

  12. asperges says:

    We are at sixes and sevens about what we should do for Lent, but not so long ago the fast was everything – hunger reminded us of what we did and why. Now it is all “soft and fluffy,” we have to invent abstract reasons for self-improvement etc, however worthy these aspirations may be.

    In practice this is harder and often (like ordinary meatless Fridays which suffered the same fate: “do something or.. “) we end up doing nothing. Reading the missal for Lent (the old one), there are constant references to mortification, and fasting. This is totally alien to our modern way of thinking and acting. One thinks, for example, of the Irish (Catholic) Navvies in the 19th century who built our railways and canals (in the UK) and who did very heavy work on Lenten rations AND knew and understood why Lent mattered. Simple Catholics, yes; faithful: certainly and probably more than we are.

    We are really poor creatures in the 21st century. We need more than abstract ideas and some vague sentiment about doing better, to make us do something: each time the Church gives a concession (Mass, Holy days of obligation), fasting, we do less. Let us not kid ourselves. Lent is the commemoration of Our Lord’s fast in desert and his suffering and Passion. It needs serious thought and action. Food is a good place to start, I suggest as the Church always taught us.

  13. Jordanes says:

    Sixupman asked: One of the more profound prayers of The Church is that of the Tract used during Lent: ” Lord repay us not …… .” I do not know if it is used in the NOM Missal?

    The proper chants for Mass are not included in the Missal. You have to get them from other liturgical books, chiefly the Graduale Romanum and the Kyriale. I don’t have those handy, but the Cantica Nova website seems to indicate that the traditional Tract for Lent is no longer used in the Pauline Mass.

  14. asperges says:

    The proper for Ash Wednesday is exactly the same for the EF (old rite) and the OF (new) – I have checked both Gradualia.

    I presume the reference is to the Tract “Domine, non secundum peccata nostra..” whose versicle “Adjuva nos Deus” is sung kneeling (old rite – no mention of this new rite). It reoccurs on most Weds and all Fridays throughout Lent.

    Tracts in the new rite (OF)are only mentioned for Sundays and are the same texts as the old rite. Although the weekday Masses of Lent are largely the same propers as the old rite (with odd exceptions, usually for the Gradual of the day), no tracts are shown at all, and I presume have been suppressed.

    As for incensing, the prayer referred to is “Dirigatur Domine Oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo” which is from the ordinary of the (old) Mass. I do not possess a new missal but I see the new GIRM (para 75) mentions incensation and seems to allude to the same idea. But it says the priest blesses the incense “nihil dicens” so it must have disappeared.

    Interestingly, it is now far easier to obtain details of the old rite on Internet, of which there is a huge amount, than for the new.

  15. asperges: In the OF, the prayers at incensation at the Offertory are not used.
    Lenten fast and abstinence, once a universal practice, throughout all of Lent (but with days of partial abstinence) was a real grace for the Church; today, it’s just “fluff”, I’m afraid, and even with these minimal requirements, how many are observing them?
    Lent is not supposed to be an endurance contest, but a real giving of self, a real denial of self. St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Meditations on Lent says that fasting is supposed to first of all help us overcome concupiscence, esp. sins against chastity, to help us to pray and lift our minds and hearts to God, and to make reparation for our sins.
    That’s a very good programme for Lent, as far as I can see. Three very good points to ponder as we go into Lent and further.

  16. asperges says:

    Nazareth Priest, Thank you for the above: most helpful.

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