What to Do During Lent

Fr. Edlefsen's Sunday Column
March 8, 2019
What To Do During Lent

FRIDAYS IN LENT = ABSTINENCE (no meat). Confessions at 7:00 pm.  Stations of the Cross at 7:30 pm.

LENTEN PENANCE: Practiced Monday-Saturday throughout Lent (not Sundays). Give up a licit personal pleasure. For example: giving up desserts, favorite foods or entertainments, like video games, social media or Facebook. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal a few times a week, and use that time to pray. “In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch” (Psalm 5:3). Take a cool shower now and then. Quietly do an extra chore (cleaning, doing dishes). Just a few suggestions…perhaps you have other ideas. Penances are not “spiritual workouts.” They’re about being detached from what “I want” in order to be more available to what “God wants.” They’re about tuning into grace. Without prayer and charity, penance is a pointless activity, at least spiritually. But with prayer and charity, penance purifies the heart from egoism and selfishness.

Fast from gossip. Starve the tongue. If you do nothing else but this during Lent, you’ve done something more significant than fasting, penance, almsgiving and casting out demons. “Mors et vita in manibus linguae” (Death and life are in the hands of the tongue). Proverbs 18:21.

SATURDAY EVENING (after 5:00 pm) & SUNDAYS are not days of Penance, not even in Lent.

MARCH 19 (St. Joseph Day) and MARCH 25 (Solemnity of the Assumption) are not days of Penance. These days are SOLEMNITIES (or high feasts), and these days should be occasions of feasting, not fasting. We will have a special SAINT JOSEPH TABLE with all kinds of treats on Saturday, March 16 after the 5:00 pm Vigil Mass.

SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION (CONFESSION): Plan to make frequent and good Confessions during Lent. Confessions will be heard every Wednesday in Lent from 6:30-8:00 pm (The Light Is On) and every Friday at 7:00 pm, in addition to the usual Saturday Confessions at 8:00 am and 3:00 pm.

EXTRA PRAYERS, SPIRITUAL READING & ALMSGIVING: Prayer suggestions: Attend weekday Mass; spend 30-60 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament or reading the Bible regularly. Say a daily rosary while meditating attentively to the mysteries. Say the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Or do a daily devotion from a good prayer book. Do this as a family. Spiritual reading suggestions: Read all four Gospels during Lent. Pray the Psalms or Proverbs. Read the biography of a saint. Read passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fr. Frederick Edlefsen, Pastor


Lenten Reflection

by Saint Augustine

In Christ we suffered temptation, and in him we overcame the devil

Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer. Who is speaking? An individual, it seems. See if it is an individual: I cried out to you from the ends of the earth while my heart was in anguish. Now it is no longer one person; rather, it is one in the sense that Christ is one, and we are all his members. What single individual can cry from the ends of the earth? The one who cries from the ends of the earth is none other than the Son’s inheritance. It was said to him: Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. This possession of Christ, this inheritance of Christ, this body of Christ, this one Church of Christ, this unity that we are, cries from the ends of the earth. What does it cry? What I said before: Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer; I cried out to you from the ends of the earth.’ That is, I made this cry to you from the ends of the earth; that is, on all sides.

Why did I make this cry? While my heart was in anguish. The speaker shows that he is present among all the nations of the earth in a condition, not of exalted glory but of severe trial.  Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.

The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that the members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before.

He made us one with him when he chose to be tempted by Satan. We have heard in the gospel how the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Certainly Christ was tempted by the devil. In Christ you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained salvation for you; he suffered death in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.

If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcome the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.

From the Mirror of Love

by Saint Aelred, Abbot 

Christ, the model of brotherly love

The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.
In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth. Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity - Father, forgive them - and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?

Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgment; therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognize my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord. Further, if he wishes to savor the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.

But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Savior.