quod pro nobis traditum est

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fasting and Lent

The Lord says, "When you fast . . ." (Mt. 6)

Fasting is a practice in the Church not isolated from prayer and almsgiving. All of these practices are signs of our mortality and of our need to die to sinful desires, that is, our need to repent. Fasting is a self-discipline that helps to keep our focus on our need for God's forgiveness. Repentance and forgiveness are daily in the baptismal life, though Lent offers us the opportunity to be reminded of and be catechized in disciplines that we are usually too busy to even contemplate. Usually, it is our own busy-ness that becomes the excuse and for which we also need to repent.

Fasting, prayer and almsgiving are not practices that one does to get the attention of God and others. They are done as a means of preparing for receiving the Eucharist, preparing for the paschal Feast, preparing for the Life to come. Praying the daily office, individual confession and absolution and helping the needy are all disciplines of the Christian faith, places where mercy and daily life connect.

These disciplines are good works wrought out of the forgiveness that we are given and receive in Christ. His own Incarnation, humility, service to God and others and death on the Cross bear us in all of our infirmities and weaknesses. Even as the Son of Man humbles Himself so He lifts us up. When we are weak, then we are strong.

Just as repentance is not complete without forgiveness, so the life of discipline is not complete without God's grace and mercy in Christ. The benefits of the Cross - Christ Himself - is our reward in His Body and Blood. The fast is made complete in the Feast which He prepares for us and through which He gives us strength and through which we have Life.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

that we might live in him . . .

"Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" (Mt 5:44)

Let us then continually persevere in our hope, and the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ, who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth," (1P 2:22) but endured all things for us, that we might live in him. Let us then be imitators of his patience; and if we suffer for his name's sake, let us glorify him. For he has set us this example in himself, and we have believed that such is the case… Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood, and being attached to one another, joined together in the truth, exhibiting the meekness of the Lord in your intercourse with one another, and despising no one…

For I trust that you are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet granted. It is declared then in these Scriptures, "Be angry, and sin not," and, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ep 4:26). Happy is he who remembers this, which I believe to be the case with you.

But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may he bestow on you a lot and portion among his saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in his Father, who raised him from the dead. Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings, and potentates, and princes, and for those that persecute and hate you, and for the enemies of the cross. May your fruit be manifest to all, and may you be perfect in him.

- Saint Polycarp (69 – 155) Bishop and Martyr, Letter to the Philippians, 8-12

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

St. Valentine, Martyr

Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Valentine, grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

a quote on the Liturgy

So grace is the focus of the entire Church Year. Without it the Liturgy would be empty and historical reminiscence. But grace makes it the source of light and life.
(The Sermon and the Propers, II, 21)