Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mine stings. Does yours?

There is a famous quotation from Dr. Samuel Johnson, author of the first English dictionary, that goes “I hate Lent.” Advent has always been my season, so I have to admit that I kind of join Sam Johnson in his evaluation of Lent—or at least I don’t like it as much as Advent.

Lent was actually a time of fasting and abstinence under the Roman pagans. The church co-opted it in the very early ages to get people to do penance before the observance of Passiontide and the commemoration of the Last Supper, our Lord’s death on the cross, and His glorious Resurrection. Throughout Christian history, people have observed Lent and found out that the better they observed it, the more enthusiastic was there observance of Easter. This was particularly true in the Eastern Church where Lent was a black fast, meaning not only no meat or fish, but no dairy products.

Unfortunately Lent has come by bad times. Some people hardly know it is Lent and don’t manage even to do the very minor fasting that the Church requires on Fridays and a few other days. May I suggest to you that you pick out something to do for Lent? I’m going to pick out some secret little penance that I don’t like and do it.

A wonderful Carmelite sister of Alhambra, California, Sister Mary Anastasia, was a great person for marvelous quotations. She had a superb sense of humor and when she died at 94, her community put out a little book of her wise sayings. One of them is, “if it doesn’t sting, it’s not a sacrifice.” So in Lent, if you give up meat on certain evenings, don’t move to Lobster Thermidor! A penance must sting, and the more it stings the more beautiful your Easter will be and the better you will be prepared for the big Easter at the end of time.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR


Blogger Angela said...

Excellent post :) I do love lent, and although I am starting to get somewhat nervous about it starting tomorrow! I don't feel prepared!

You will be in my prayers this lent! God Bless you!

2/20/2007 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Angela Louise said...

Ooops... that was me...

2/20/2007 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger Margaret in Minnesota said...

Mine stings.


An Ash Wednesday comment-leaver

PS. Am I the only one who finds herself thinking, "ANd it's only the First Day!!!"

2/21/2007 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

great post. Very inspriring!

2/21/2007 08:48:00 PM  

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