"In every pious undertaking the beginning merely
does not suffice. "Whoso shall persevere unto the
end, he shall be saved.""
Pictorial Lives of the Saints
May 3.—THE DISCOVERY OF THE HOLY CROSS. GOD having restored peace to His Church, by exalting Constantine the Great to the imperial throne, that pious prince, who had triumphed over his enemies by the miraculous power of the cross, was very desirous of expressing his veneration for the holy places which had been honored and sanctified by the presence and sufferings of our blessed Redeemer on earth, and accordingly resolved to build a magnificent church in the city of Jerusalem. St. Helen, the emperor's mother, desiring to visit the holy places there, undertook a journey into Palestine in 326, though at that time near eighty years of age; and on her arrival at Jerusalem was inspired with a great desire to find the identical cross on which Christ had suffered for our sins. But there was no mark or tradition, even amongst the Christians, to show where it lay. The heathens, out of an aversion to Christianity, had done what they could to conceal the place where Our Saviour was buried, by heaping on it a great quantity of stones and rubbish, and building on it a temple to Venus. They had, moreover, erected a statue of Jupiter in the place where Our Saviour rose from the dead. Helen, to carry out her pious design, consulted every one at Jerusalem and near it whom she thought likely to assist her in finding out the cross; and was credibly informed that, if she could find out the sepulchre, she would likewise find the instruments of the punishment; it being the custom among the Jews to make a hole near the place where the body of a criminal was buried, and to throw into it whatever belonged to his execution.
The pious empress, therefore, ordered the profane buildings to be pulled down, the statues to be broken in pieces, and the rubbish to be removed; and, upon digging to a great depth, the holy sepulchre, and near it three crosses, also the nails which had pierced Our Saviour's body, and the title which had been fixed to His cross, were found. By this discovery they knew that one of the three crosses was that which they were in quest of, and that the others belonged to the two malefactors between whom Our Saviour had been crucified. But, as the title was found separate from the cross, it was difficult to distinguish which of the three crosses was that on which our divine Redeemer consummated His sacrifice for the salvation of the world. In this perplexity the holy Bishop Macarius, knowing that one of the principal ladies of the city lay extremely ill, suggested to the empress to cause the three crosses to be carried to the sick person, not doubting but God would discover which was the cross they sought for. This being done, St. Macarius prayed that God would have regard to their faith, and, after his prayer, applied the crosses singly to the patient, who was immediately and perfectly recovered by the touch of one of the three crosses, the other two having been tried without effect. St. Helen, full of joy at having found the treasure which she had so earnestly sought and so highly esteemed, built a church on the spot, and lodged the cross there with great veneration, having provided an extraordinarily rich case for it. She afterwards carried part of it to the Emperor Constantine, then at Constantinople, who received it with great veneration; another part she sent or rather carried to Rome, to be placed in the church which she had built there, called Of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, where it remains to this day. The title was sent by St. Helen to the same church, and placed on the top of an arch, where it was found in a case of lead in 1492. The inscription in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin is in red letters, and the wood was whitened. Thus it was in 1492; but these colors are since faded. Also the words Jesus
are eaten away. The board is nine, but must have been twelve, inches long.
The main part of the cross St. Helen inclosed in a silver shrine, and committed it to the care of St. Macarius, that it might be delivered down to posterity, as an object of veneration. It was accordingly kept with singular care and respect in the magnificent church which she and her son built in Jerusalem. St. Paulinus relates that, though chips were almost daily cut off from it and given to devout persons, yet the sacred wood suffered thereby no diminution. It is affirmed by St, Cyril of Jerusalem, twenty-five years after the discovery, that pieces of the cross were spread all over the earth; he compares this wonder to the miraculous feeding of five thousand men, as recorded in the Gospel. The discovery of the cross must have happened about the month of May, or early in the spring; for St. Helen went the same year to Constantinople, and from thence to Rome, where she died in the arms of her son on the 18th of August, 326. Reflection
.—In every pious undertaking the beginning merely does not suffice. "Whoso shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."
This Weeks Friday Fare .... Spiritual Food for the Soul
Find hundreds of meatless recipes in our previous Feria Friday posts
, today's food is spiritual food for the soul.Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism
By: Rev. Francis Spirago +Imprimatur 1908Q. Why did God make you?A God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.THE BLASPHEMER AND THE MONKNo one can be saved without exertion on his part. Some foolish people assert that no man can influence his destiny. A Franciscan monk, Duns Scotus by name, was one day walking alongside a field where a laborer was at work, cursing and swearing all the time. The monk begged him to desist, telling him if he used such bad language he would surely go to hell. The man answered: "If God has decreed that I shall go to hell, no prayers will avail me anything; if He has decreed that I shall go to heaven, I shall be saved, however much I curse and swear." "If so,"
said the priest rejoined, "I cannot understand why you are plowing this field. For if God has decreed that you shall have a good crop, you will have one although you do not cultivate your land: but if He has decreed that the harvest shall fail, all your labor will be in vain." The peasant replied that if he did not till the ground there would certainly be no harvest. The priest smiled, and said: "There, ou have just reversed your former argument." Thus the man's eyes were opened to the falsity of fatalism.Q. Of which must we take more care, our soul or our body?A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body.AND THEN?A student once came to St. Philip Neri and asked him for an alms. The saint gave it to him, at the same time inquiring what he was going to be. The student replied, "I am going to be a barrister." The saint asked: "And what then?" The young man replied: "I shall earn a good deal by my persuasive tongue." "And then?" the saint again asked. "Why then I shall enjoy a comfortable competence in my old age." "And then?" the saint rejoined. Thereupon the young man's countenance clouded over, and he said sadly: "Then of course at last I must die." "And then?" the saint once more repeated. The young man did not answer a word, but went away with downcast looks. The words, "And then?" - sounded incessantly in his ears; he could not get them out of his mind. They made a pious and virtuous man of hm later on.THE THREE MIRRORSThere is no real beauty without virtue. A school girl, writing home, asked her mother to send her a looking-glass. Her mother, a sensible and Christian lady, when she answered the letter, said: "I am sending you a parcel by post in which are three mirrors. The first will show you to yourself as you are; the second will show you what you will be; the third will show you what you ought to be."When the box arrived, the girl opened it with curiosity; the first thing she took out was an ordinary looking-glass; then there was the representation of a skull; below both of these was beautiful statuette of Our Lady. Thus the pious mother sought to impress upon her daughter's mind that personal beauty is transitory and is effaced by the hand of death; and for this reason a maiden ought to imitate the virtues of the Mother of God, since thus alone will she attain true loveliness, a beauty which does not pass away with this mortal life, - the beauty of the soul, which lasts eternally. Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, says Holy Writ. I am black but beautiful, for the beauty of the King's daughter is from within.
"Indeed, God gives to the Catholic for every joy he renounces a thousandfold more; for every darkness a hundred dawns; for every human relationship that is sacrificed for Christ's sake, a heavenly, instead; for "lands and houses' the whole earth which is His footstool; for every cross a crown."
-Mgr. Robert Hugh Benson
SS. Cletus and Marcellinus
Another week gone by and here we are at another Feria Friday where we share a weekly saint's story and other food for the soul! To find 300+ meatless recipes, for meatless Friday, please visit our Feria Friday archives.Pictorial lives of the Saints + Imprimatur 1887
April 26.—STS. CLETUS and MARCELLINUS, Popes, Martyrs.
ST. CLETUS was the third Bishop of Rome, and succeeded St. Linus
, which circumstance alone shows his eminent virtue among the first disciples of St. Peter in the West. He sat twelve years, from 76 to 89. The canon of the Roman Mass, Bede, and other martyrologists, style him a martyr. He was buried near St. Linus
, in the Vatican, and his relics still remain in that church.
St. Marcellinus succeeded St. Coins in the bishopric of Rome in 296, about the time that Diocletian set himself up for a deity, and impiously claimed divine honors. In those stormy times of persecution Marcellinus acquired great glory. He sat in St. Peter's chair eight years, three months, and twenty-five days, dying in 304, a year after the cruel persecution broke out, in which he gained much honor. He has been styled a martyr, though his blood was not shed in the cause of religion.Reflection
.—It is a fundamental maxim of the Christian morality, and a truth which Christ has established in the clearest terms and in innumerable passages of the Gospel, that the cross or sufferings and mortification are the road to eternal bliss. They, therefore, who lead not here a crucified and mortified life are unworthy ever to possess the unspeakable joys of His kingdom. Our Lord Himself, our Model and our Head, walked in this path, and His great Apostle puts us in mind that He entered into bliss only by His blood and by the cross.
This Weeks Friday Fare ...... Food for the Soul
Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism
By: Rev. Francis Spirago +Imprimatur 1908Q. Did God give any command to Adam and Eve?A. To try their obedience, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of a certain fruit which grew in the garden of Paradise.
THE BUNCH OF GRAPES
It is related of St. Macarius, one of the Fathers of the desert, that, having received as a present a beautiful bunch of grapes, though he longed to taste them, he, to exercise himself in self-denial and obedience to his rule, resolved not to do so, but sent them with his compliments to a neighboring hermit. He, inspired with the same holy motives, sent them to a third; the third to a fourth, and so on until finally the grapes, having passed through most of the cells in the desert, came back to St. Macarius practically untouched. The latter, on receiving them and on learning after inquiry through whose hands they passed, gave thanks to God that in the world should be found so many faithful sons of Adam and Eve to make reparation for their parents' transgression.Q. Why did Christ suffer and die?A. Christ suffered and died for our sins.THE BURIED SEED
A little city girl was one springtime visiting her country cousins, and seeing the laborers in the field planting the seed, she cried out: "Oh, what a foolish thing! to bury the beautiful seed in the earth to rot and die!" The farmer smiled and said: "Yes; but if we don't bury it, we shall have no fine fields of corn this summer, nor abundant harvest in the fall." This law of nature is also the law of grace. Whoever humbleth himself shall be exalted. So, too, Christ's voluntary degradation was the cause of our exaltation. He Himself expressed this truth when He said: "Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."Q. What did Jesus Christ Suffer?A. Jesus Christ suffered a bloody sweat, a cruel scourging, was crowned with thorns, and was crucified.
THE SICK CHILD AND THE BITTER MEDICINE
The contemplation of Christ's sufferings should enable us to bear our own trials more patiently. A child who was very ill had to take a peculiarly nauseous medicine. He took it once, but refused to take it a second time. Then his mother brought a picture of Our Lord in the Garden of Olives and the angel offering the chalice to Him. "Look," she said to the sick child, "Our Saviour drank the chalice of suffering not for His own sake, but for yours, and you will not drink your physic for your own sake. At least take it for the love of Christ." "Very well, then, for the love of Our Lord Jesus," the child rejoined, and swallowed the bitter potion without a murmur. We, too, should find it easier to bear our sufferings if we fixed our eyes on our suffering Lord.
Welcome to another Feria Friday!
Every week we share a story of one of God's heavenly friends and some Friday Fare in honor of our Lord's death upon that Holy cross. We are in transition at the moment and will not have any recipes for you this week. We hope to do a little 'remodel' on this weekly post once a few other projects have been completed. Please enjoy the wonderful Thaumaturgus (miracle worker) story today and make sure to hop on over to my husbands blog where there is a new series of saints stories called Thaumaturgus Thursday
, the first being about the amazing St. Francis of Paula
! May you all have a blessed weekend.Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
April 5.—ST. VINCENT FERRER.
CH's wonderful apostle, the "Angel of the Judgment," was born at Valencia in Spain, in 1350, and at the age of eighteen professed in the Order of St. Dominic. After a brilliant course of study he became master of sacred theology. For three years he read only the Scriptures, and knew the whole Bible by heart. He converted the Jews of Valencia, and their synagogue became a church. Grief at the great schism then afflicting the Church reduced him to the point of death; but Our Lord Himself in glory bade him go forth to convert sinners, "for My judgment is nigh." This miraculous apostolate lasted twenty-one years. He preached throughout Europe, in the towns and villages of Spain, Switzerland, France, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland. Everywhere tens of thousands of sinners were reformed; Jews, infidels, and heretics were converted. Stupendous miracles enforced his words. Twice each day the " miracle bell " summoned the sick, the blind, the lame to be cured. Sinners the most obdurate became Saints; speaking only his native Spanish, he was understood in all tongues. Processions of ten thousand penitents followed him in perfect order. Convents, orphanages, hospitals, arose in his path. Amidst all, his humility remained profound, his prayer constant. He always prepared for preaching by prayer. Once, however, when a person of high rank was to be present at his sermon he neglected prayer for study. The nobleman was not particularly struck by the discourse which had been thus carefully worked up; but coming again to hear the Saint, unknown to the latter, the second sermon made a deep impression on his soul. When St. Vincent heard of the difference, he remarked that in the first sermon it was Vincent who had preached, but in the second, Jesus Christ. He fell ill at Vannes in Brittany, and received the crown of everlasting glory in 1419.Reflection
.—"Whatever you do," said St. Vincent, "think not of yourself, but of God." In this spirit he preached, and God spoke by him; in this spirit, if we listen, we shall hear the voice of God.
This Weeks Friday Fare
"No good can be accomplished save by and with the Cross." - Venerable Mother Barat
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
March 15.—ST. ZACHARY, Pope.
ST. ZACHARY succeeded Gregory III., in 741, and was a man of singular meekness and goodness. He loved the clergy and people of Rome to that degree that he hazarded his life for them on occasion of the troubles which Italy fell into by the rebellion of the Dukes of Spoleto and Benevento against King Luitprand. Out of respect to his sanctity and dignity, that king restored to the Church of Rome all the places which belonged to it, and sent back the captives without ransom. The Lombards were moved to tears at the devotion with which they heard him perform the divine service. The zeal and prudence of this holy Pope appeared in many wholesome regulations which he had made to reform or settle the discipline and peace of several churches. St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, wrote to him against a certain priest named Virgilius, that he labored to sow the seeds of discord between him and Odilo, Duke of Bavaria, and taught, besides, many errors. Zachary ordered that Virgilius should be sent to Rome, that his doctrine might be examined. It seems that he cleared himself; for we find this same Virgilius soon after made Bishop of Salzburg. Certain Venetian merchants having bought at Rome many slaves to sell to the Moors in Africa, St. Zachary forbade such an iniquitous traffic, and, paying the merchants their price, gave the slaves their liberty. He adorned Rome with sacred buildings, and with great foundations in favor of the poor and pilgrims, and gave every year a considerable sum to furnish oil for the lamps in St. Peter's Church. He died in 752, in the month of March.
This Weeks Friday Fare.... is Spiritual Food for the Soul
Thoughts on the Passion For Each Day in the Week
"Behold the Man." Yet scarcely recognizable as such. Behold the Man, the mirror in which the Eternal Father discovers to men the abyss of HIs mercy, the abyss of HIs justice, the abyss of their own malice. Behold the Man, and in Him the melancholy condition of a sinful soul; in Him how innocence is punished for the guilty. Behold the Man! the joy of the blessed in heaven, the man through whom alone we may hope for mercy.
"Courage! Let us be generous in our sacrifices." - Blessed Theophane Venard -
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
March 8.—ST. JOHN OF GOD.
NOTHING in John's early life foreshadowed his future sanctity. He ran away as a boy from his home in Portugal, tended sheep and cattle in Spain, and served as a soldier against the French, and afterwards against the Turks. When about forty years of age, feeling remorse for his wild life, he resolved to devote himself to the ransom of the Christian slaves in Africa, and went thither with the family of an exiled noble, which he maintained by his labor. On his return to Spain he sought to do good by selling holy pictures and books at low prices. At length the hour of grace struck. At Granada a sermon by the celebrated John of Avila shook his soul to its depths, and his expressions of self-abhorrence were so extraordinary that he was taken to the asylum as one mad. There he employed himself in ministering to the sick. On leaving he began to collect homeless poor, and to support them by his work and by begging. One night St. John found in the streets a poor man who seemed near death, and, as was his wont, he carried him to the hospital, laid him on a bed, and went to fetch water to wash his feet. When he had washed them, he knelt to kiss them, and started with awe: the feet were pierced, and the print of the nails bright with an unearthly radiance. He raised his eyes to look, and heard the words, "John, to Me thou doest all that thou doest to the poor in My name: I reach forth My hand for the alms thou givest; Me dost thou clothe, Mine are the feet thou dost wash." And then the gracious vision disappeared, leaving St. John filled at once with confusion and consolation. The bishop became the Saint's patron, and gave him the name of John of God. When his hospital was on fire, John was seen rushing about uninjured amidst the flames until he had rescued all his poor. After ten years spent in the service of the suffering, the Saint's life was fitly closed. He plunged into the river Xenil to save a drowning boy, and died, 1550, of an illness brought on by the attempt, at the age of fifty-five.
Reflection.—God often rewards men for works that are pleasing in His sight by giving them grace and opportunity to do other works higher still. St. John of God used to attribute his conversion, and the graces which enabled him to do such great works, to his self-denying charity in Africa.
This Weeks Friday Fare
"Internal peace resides, not in the senses but in the will. One keeps it in the midst of the bitterest sorrow so long as one's will remains firm and submissive." - Fenelon
Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894]
March 1.—ST. DAVID, Bishop.
ST. DAVID, son of Sant, Prince of Cardigan and of Non, was born in that country in the fifth century, and from his earliest years gave himself wholly to the service of God. He began his religious life under St. Paulinus, a disciple of St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, who had been sent to Britain by Pope St. Celestine to stop the ravages of the heresy of Pelagius, at that time abbot, as it is said, of Bangor. On the reappearance of that heresy, in the beginning of the sixth century, the bishops assembled at Brevi, and, unable to address the people that came to hear the word of truth, sent for St. David from his cell to preach to them. The Saint came, and it is related that, as he preached, the ground beneath his feet rose and became a hill, so that he was heard by an innumerable crowd. The heresy fell under the sword of the Spirit, and the Saint was elected Bishop of Caerleon on the resignation of St. Dubricius; but he removed the see to Menevia, a lone and desert spot, where he might, with his monks, serve God away from the noise of the world. He founded twelve monasteries, and governed his Church according to the canons sanctioned in Rome. At last, when about eighty years of age, he laid himself down, knowing that his hour was come. As his agony closed, Our Lord stood before him in a vision, and the Saint cried out: "Take me up with Thee," and so gave up his soul on Tuesday, March 1, 561.Download March Notebooking Pages, including one for St. David
This Weeks Friday Fare
Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
February 22.—ST. PETER'S CHAIR AT ANTIOCH.
THAT St. Peter, before he went to Rome, founded the see of Antioch is attested by many Saints. It was just that the Prince of the Apostles should take this city under his particular care and inspection, which was then the capital of the East, and in which the faith took so early and so deep root as to give birth in it to the name of Christians. St. Chrysostom says that St. Peter made' there a long stay; St. Gregory the Great, that he was seven years Bishop of Antioch; not that he resided there all that time, but only that he had a particular care over that Church. If he sat twenty-five years at Rome, the date of his establishing his chair at Antioch must be within three years after Our Saviour's Ascension; for in that supposition he must have gone to Rome in the second year of Claudius. In the first ages it was customary, especially in the East, for every Christian to keep the anniversary of his Baptism, on which he renewed his baptismal vows and gave thanks to God for his heavenly adoption: this they called their spiritual birthday. The bishops in like manner kept the anniversary of their own consecration, as appears from four sermons of St. Leo on the anniversary of his accession or assumption to the pontifical dignity; and this was frequently continued after their decease by the people, out of respect for their memory. St. Leo says we ought to celebrate the chair of St. Peter with no less joy than the day of his martyrdom; for as in this he was exalted to a throne of glory in heaven, so by the former he was installed head of the Church on earth.Reflection
.—On this festival we are especially bound to adore and thank the Divine Goodness for the establishment and propagation of His Church, and earnestly to pray that in His mercy He preserve the same, and dilate its pale, that His name may be glorified by all nations, and by all hearts, to the boundaries of the earth, for His divine honor and the salvation of souls, framed to His divine image, and the price of His adorable blood.Download free coloring pages!Jesus Gives Peter the Keys to the ChurchPope; Bishop of RomeSt. Peter's Basilica Rome
Find a notebooking page for today's feast in our February Notebooking Butler's Lives of the Saints download!
This Weeks Friday Fare
Holy Simplicity Planner Home*School*Liturgical Year
The 2013.2014 Holy Simplicity Planner & Printed Children's planners are coming soon! Are you signed up on our mailing list to get updates? Plan your homeschool, Liturgical Year and home life all in one easy convenient location! Children will manage their own school work with these unique Catholic Children's planners that also help them take a look at their daily practice of virtues. Click photos to find out more!
Catholic Children's Lesson Planners; Maidens for Mary & Crusader's for Christ
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
February 15.—STS. FAUSTINUS and JOVITA, Martyrs.FAUSTINUS and Jovita were brothers, nobly born, and zealous professors of the Christian religion, which they preached without fear in their city of Brescia, while, the bishop of that place lay concealed during the persecution. Their remarkable zeal excited the fury of the heathens against them, and procured them a glorious death for their faith at Brescia in Lombardy, under the Emperor Adrian. Julian, a heathen lord, apprehended them: and the emperor himself, passing through Brescia, when neither threats nor torments could shake their constancy, commanded them to be beheaded. They seem to have suffered about the year 121. The city of Brescia honors them as its chief patrons, possesses their relics, and a very ancient church in that city bears their names.
Reflection.—The spirit of Christ is a spirit of martyrdom—at least of mortification and penance. It is always the spirit of the cross. The more we share in the suffering life of Christ, the greater share we inherit in His spirit, and in the fruit of His death. To souls mortified to their senses and disengaged from earthly things, God gives frequent foretastes of the sweetness of eternal life, and the most ardent desires of possessing Him in His glory. This is the spirit of martyrdom, which entitles a Christian to a happy resurrection and to the bliss of the life to come.
This Weeks Friday Fare
It's Coming! The 2013-2014 Holy Simplicity Planner is due to be out May 2013. Plan your home, school & Liturgical year all in one place with double spread monthly planning sheets, double spread weekly planning sheets and Liturgical season and feast planning sheets. For a preview and more details please visit the Holy Simplicity Planner page.
St. John Matha
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
February 8.—ST. JOHN OF MATHA.
THE life of St. John of Matha was one long course of self-sacrifice for the glory of God and the good of his neighbor. As a child, his chief delight was serving the poor; and he often told them he had come into the world for no other end but to wash their feet. He studied at Paris with such distinction that his professors advised him to become a priest, in order that his talents might render greater service to others; and, for this end, John gladly sacrificed his high rank and other worldly advantages. At his first Mass an angel appeared, clad in white, with a red and blue cross on his breast, and his hands reposing on the heads of a Christian and a Moorish captive. To ascertain what this signified, John repaired to St. Felix of Valois, a holy hermit living near Meaux, under whose direction he led a life of extreme penance. The angel again appeared, and they then set out for Rome, to learn the will of God from the lips of the Sovereign Pontiff, who told them to devote themselves to the redemption of captives. For this purpose they founded the Order of the Holy Trinity. The religious fasted every day, and gathering alms throughout Europe took them to Barbary, to redeem the Christian slaves. They devoted themselves also to the sick and prisoners in all countries. The charity of St. John in devoting his life to the redemption of captives was visibly blessed by God. On his second return from Tunis he brought back one hundred and twenty liberated slaves. But the Moors attacked him at sea, over- i powered his vessel, and doomed it to destruction, with all on board, by taking away the rudder and sails, and leaving it to the mercy of the winds. St. John tied his cloak to the mast, and prayed, saying, "Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered. O Lord, Thou wilt save the humble, and wilt bring down the eyes of the proud." Suddenly the wind filled the small sail, and, without guidance, carried the ship safely in a few days to Ostia, the port of Rome, three hundred leagues from Tunis. Worn out by his heroic labors, John died in 1213, at the age of fifty-three.
Reflection.—Let us never forget that our blessed Lord, bade us love our neighbor not only as ourselves, but as He loved us, Who afterwards sacrificed Himself for us.
This weeks Friday Fare
Could you Explain Catholic Practices
By: Rev. Charles J. Mullaly, S.J.
ASH WEDNESDAY, FAST, AND ABSTINENCE
It was the afternoon of Ash Wednesday. As I visited the class of eighth grade boys I could not suppress a smile. The forehead of every pupil had been generously marked with blessed ashes and evidently not one had made any attempt to remove the symbol of penance received some hours before in the church. Maybe these sturdy youngsters had erroneously believed that it would have been almost a denial of their Faith to remove the mark of the ashes, not knowing that there is no obligation to go through the day with this very visible sign of their Catholicity.
I wondered if these eighth graders could explain why they had gone to church on Ash Wednesday morning. When I asked the question of the class in general, the Sister in charge turned to the forty eager listeners. "Those who can answer Father's question will raise the right hand."
Forty hands excitedly waved in the air. I would make a test. I noticed an amused twinkle in the Sister's eyes and I then knew that my questions would be answered, for she was an accurate and exacting teacher. I soon elicited the information that the ashes received by the Faithful on their foreheads at the ceremony on Ash Wednesday are obtained by burning palms blessed on Palm Sunday; that at a special ceremony, before the Mass on Ash Wednesday, the ashes are blessed and those present approach the altar-rail and receive them upon the forehead from the priest who says, "Momento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reversers." )"remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return").
I was then told that Ash Wednesday is the first day of the forty days' fast of Lent; that in the early days of the Church public penitents who had come to the church door to receive their penance were brought before the Bishop who put ashes on their heads and admonished them to repent and to do penance. Out of affection, or humility, relatives and friends of the penitents joined themselves to them and offered their foreheads to be sprinkled with ashes.
My question, "What is the meaning of Lent?" was met with an enthusiastic waving of hands. One bright-eyed boy informed me: "The fast of Lent dates back to the earliest days of the Church, though not in its present form of forty days. St. Irenaeus, in the second century, speaks of the fast before Easter. Whatever the duration of the fast, it is clear that it was considered obligatory. The present legislation of forty days dates back many centuries. Lent now starts on Ash Wednesday and at present ends at noon on Holy Saturday after the Mass of the Resurrection. It is the season when we beg Gods mercy for ourselves and do penance for our sins."
I was marveling at the clearness of the boy's answer when Sister remarked:
"You see, Father, how we use "The Messenger of the Sacred Heart' with profit." I had one more inquiry. "What is the difference between abstinence and fasting?"
I received the correct explanation that abstinence is abstaining from meat; that fasting means, under our present legislation, the taking of only one full meal a day at midday or in the evening, allowing, over and above the principal meal, the present custom of a cup of tea or coffee with a fragment of bread or toast in the morning and a collation of about eight or ten ounces of food in the evening or at midday. Every day of abstinence is not a fast day, and only those fast days are days of abstinence which are marked as such. On fast days which are not days of abstinence, meat may be taken only at the principal meal.
The law of abstinence binds all Catholics who have completed their seventh year; the obligation of fasting is imposted on the those who are over twenty-one and under fifty-nine.