It seems such a short time ago that we sought the Infant Christ at Bethlehem, adored Him, and were sure that we would never offend Him; and already on Septuagesima Sunday in the Introit of the Mass He cries out with the weight of our sins: “The groans of death surrounded me and the sorrows of hell encompassed me….”
It is but three weeks before Lent when Septuagesima arrives, and this is a warning. We have sinned, and the time is coming when we must do penance.
When we are born, we are really very like Adam right after his sin, although there is this difference: we have been redeemed, and at that time, he was not.
We may do what he wished he could do. We may be born again in Baptism and start afresh, although in a fallen world, our souls now radiant with divine life burning there. Lent is the spanning of all that happened between Original Sin and Baptism.
It is the summing up and the climax of what started with Christmas.
The greatest of all mysteries is that God should love man so much.
When man sinned and forfeited his right to eternal life, and there was nowhere perfect obedience or flawless love in any man to merit Heaven, He became a man in order that He might pay the debts of the family He had chosen to join.
It is a kind of divine bargain They made, almost impossible to understand unless we put it in our own words.
It is as though the Father had said to the Son, “How can we work it out so man may still live with us forever as we planned?”
And as though the Son replied, “If there were but one perfect man, it could be done. One perfect sacrifice would pay their debt. One surrender of a man as perfect as Adam was when we created him. Alas, there is none.”
Then it is as though They gazed into one another with that Love that is the Spirit of both, and They knew how it could be done.
In Their gaze, a longing still burned for the creatures who had rebelled.
With a look of infinite love, the Father sent the Son and He became the Man. “0 happy fault, that merited so great a Redeemer.”
A few thoughts….
Father gave a sermon this last Sunday. In it was a story. A priest in the 1940’s was distributing Holy Communion to the kneeling congregation at the altar rail. Each parishioner received Our Lord on the tongue. As the priest continued down the line, he approached a man who, unbeknownst to the priest, was mentally deranged. As Father reached down to give him the host, the man pulled a gun out and shot the priest in the chest.
The shot caused the priest to spring backward, the Ciborium spilling the consecrated hosts all over the sanctuary floor. The people, shocked and dismayed, began to come toward the priest to help him and to pick up the hosts. The priest, in his last breaths, lifted up his hand to stop his parishioners. He told them to stay back. Father, slowly and painfully, picked up each of the hosts and put them back in the Ciborium. He laid back down and died.
His last thought was of protecting the Blessed Sacrament. It is what he lived and died for.
In the next few weeks, may we work harder at making the Blessed Sacrament the center our lives. Let us try this Lent to receive Him as often as we can!
A couple of excellent posts by The Catholic Gentleman for your Ash Wednesday!
“In my own experience, I often begin the Lenten season with the best of intentions. I imagine myself going into full monk mode, fasting and praying as ardently as one of the monastic fathers in the desert. And maybe for the first week I succeed through sheer strength of will. Then, just when I am feeling good about myself, everything falls apart and I come face to face with my own weakness…” Read more here….
Another post from The Catholic Gentleman.
Lent is a time for self-denial. But I would argue there is one hunger we should feed this Lent. Read more here….
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