With this 1st Sunday of Lent we are fully into our forty day season of purification and preparation.
Speaking of forty, the Latin for Lent is Quadragesima, “fortieth”. St Leo the Great (d 461) used the phrase quadragesimale ieiunium, “the Forty Fast”, for Lent. English “Lent” comes from Old English lencten for “spring”.
I have more pertinent things to say about Lent in another post wherein I look at the Collect for the Novus Ordo on this Sunday. HERE
Let’s see the Collect for Holy Mass in the traditional Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in the 1962 Missale Romanum. This prayer was in the 8th century Liber Sacramentorum Engolismensis, the version of the Gregorian Sacramentum at Angoulême. Charlemagne (d 814) wanted to spread the use of the Roman Rite throughout his realm. He asked Pope Adrian I (d 795) for the Roman liturgical books. What Adrian sent was attributed to Gregory I (“the Great” d 604). These books were recopied many times with local variations. The Gallic changes and additions eventually returned to Rome, were interpolated into the Roman Rite and, therefore, are in the Roman Missals we use today.
Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam annua quadragesimali observatione purificas: praesta familiae tuae; ut, quod a te obtinere abstinendo nititur, hoc bonis operibus exsequatur.
O God, who purify Your Church by means of the annual forty-day Lenten observance: grant to Your family; that, what it strives to obtain from You by abstaining, may be achieved by good works.
All three major prayers for this Sunday contain the theme of purification (purificas, purgatos) and denial (abstinendo, restrictione). The discipline of self-denial and works of mercy help us to overcome temptations and to dispose ourselves to receive the graces God offers.
In his Message for Lent 2008, Pope Benedict offered that almsgiving,
“…represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches, and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: ‘You cannot serve God and mammon’ (Lk 16,13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. This is the aim of the special collections in favor of the poor, which are promoted during Lent in many parts of the world. In this way, inward cleansing is accompanied by a gesture of ecclesial communion…”.