A most blessed Ash Wednesday to you all. Truly, I am so grateful that Lent is here at last . . . I plan to be blogging less over these forty days (at this point, once per week), and when I do post here, most likely it will be to share something I have read or heard pertaining to this holy season–which, in fact, I am going to do today 🙂
-Butler’s Lives of the Saints
Man, drawn from the dust, must return to it, and all that he does meanwhile, with the exception of what good he may achieve, is but dust and vanity; the good alone survives . . . Nothing is, in fact, more calculated to lead the sinner to enter into himself than the remembrance of his last end. Nothing is better fitted to beat down pride and put a check on futile projects and guilty purposes than the terrible and sad memento, “Remember that thou art but dust!”
-Antiphon from Blessing of the Ashes
Hear us, O Lord, for Thy mercy is kind: look upon us, O Lord, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies. Save me, O God: for the waters are come in even unto my soul. Glory be to the Father. Hear us, O Lord . . .
-Prayers for the Gift of Tears
Almighty and most merciful God, Who, to quench the thirst of Thy people, didst draw a fountain of living water out of a rock, draw from our stony hearts tears of compunction, that we may be able to mourn for our sins and win forgiveness for them by Thy mercy.
O Lord God, in Thy mercy look down on the offerings which we make to Thy divine Majesty for our sins, and draw from our eyes such floods of tears as may quench the burning flames which we deserve.
Mercifully pour into our hearts, O Lord God, the grace of the Holy Ghost, which, by sighs and tears, may wash away the stains of our sins and obtain for us, by Thy goodness, the forgiveness which we desire.
-St. John Chrysostom
(taken from Fish Eaters)
7. …We have this fast too as an ally, and as an assistant in this good intercession. Therefore, as when the winter is over and the summer is appearing, the sailor draws his vessel to the deep; and the soldier burnishes his arms, and makes ready his steed for the battle; and the husbandman sharpens his sickle; and the traveller boldly undertakes a long journey, and the wrestler strips and bares himself for the contest. So too, when the fast makes its appearance, like a kind of spiritual summer, let us as soldiers burnish our weapons; and as husbandmen let us sharpen our sickle; and as sailors let us order our thoughts against the waves of extravagant desires; and as travellers let us set out on the journey towards heaven; and as wrestlers let us strip for the contest. For the believer is at once a husbandman, and a sailor, and a soldier, a wrestler, and a traveller. Hence St. Paul saith, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers. Put on therefore the whole armour of God.” Hast thou observed the wrestler? Hast thou observed the soldier? If thou art a wrestler, it is necessary for thee to engage in the conflict naked. If a soldier, it behoves thee to stand in the battle line armed at all points. How then are both these things possible, to be naked, and yet not naked; to be clothed, and yet not clothed! How? I will tell thee. Divest thyself of worldly business, and thou hast become a wrestler. Put on the spiritual armour, and thou hast become a soldier. Strip thyself of worldly cares, for the season is one of wrestling. Clothe thyself with the spiritual armour, for we have a heavy warfare to wage with demons. Therefore also it is needful we should be naked, so as to offer nothing that the devil may take hold of, while he is wrestling with us; and to be fully armed at all points, so as on no side to receive a deadly blow. Cultivate thy soul. Cut away the thorns. Sow the word of godliness. Propagate and nurse with much care the fair plants of divine wisdom, and thou hast become a husbandman. And Paul will say to thee, “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” He too himself practised this art. Therefore writing to the Corinthians, he said, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” Sharpen thy sickle, which thou hast blunted through gluttony–sharpen it by fasting. Lay hold of the pathway which leads towards heaven; rugged and narrow as it is, lay hold of it, and journey on. And how mayest thou be able to do these things? By subduing thy body, and bringing it into subjection. For when the way grows narrow, the corpulence that comes of gluttony is a great hindrance. Keep down the waves of inordinate desires. Repel the tempest of evil thoughts. Preserve the bark; display much skill, and thou hast become a pilot. But we shall have the fast for a groundwork and instructor in all these things.
11. I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honour fasting; for the honour of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meats, is one who especially disparages it. Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works! Is it said by what kind of works? If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him! If thou seest an enemy, be reconciled to him! If thou seest a friend gaining honour, envy him not! If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by! For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice. Let the feet fast, but ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles. Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties. For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the whole safety of the soul; but if it be lawful and safe, it adorns fasting. For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Dost thou not eat flesh? Feed not upon lasciviousness by means of the eyes. Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speakings and calumnies. “Thou shalt not receive a false report,” it says.
His talk on “Fasting” is found at Sensus Traditionis, under #7. But I highly recommend listening through all of his talks throughout Lent . . . and complying with the requirements of Penanceware 😉 (Today, I listened to “The Sacred Heart,” under #1. )
Love of God
Let us strive to contemplate the Passion of Our Lord with contrition and love, and to grow greatly in love of Him and the desire to please Him for the sake of His Heart.
I pray your Lent is richly blessed with many graces to corrupt vice, cultivate virtue, and return to God wholeheartedly. Please, out of your charity, pray for my family and me as we strive to do the same!