Saturday, March 29, 2014

Catechesis on 10 Practices for Lent (Part 2)

From Rev. Ronald Check:

Journey to the Foot of the Cross: 10 Things to Remember For Lent
From Bishop D. L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This week…here are the second five:

1.       Don’t do too much. It’s tempting to make Lent some ambitious period of personal reinvention, but it’s best to keep it simple and focused. There’s a reason the Church works on these mysteries year after year. We spend our entire lives growing closer to God. Don’t try to cram it all in one Lent. That’s a recipe for failure.   
2.      Lent reminds us of our weakness. Of course, even when we set simple goals for ourselves during Lent, we still have trouble keeping them. When we fast, we realize we’re all just one meal away from hunger. In both cases, Lent shows us our weakness. This can be painful, but recognizing how helpless we are makes us seek God’s help with renewed urgency and sincerity.  
3.      Be patient with yourself. When we’re confronted with our own weakness during Lent, the temptation is to get angry and frustrated. “What a bad person I am!” But that’s the wrong lesson. God is calling us to be patient and to see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.   
4.      Reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we should be renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering or otherwise in need. The third part of the Lenten formula is almsgiving. It’s about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the collection plate; it’s about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience of God’s unconditional love.   
5.      Learn to love like Christ. Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ, who suffered and poured himself out unconditionally on cross for all of us. Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and learn to love like him.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Catechesis on 10 Practices for Lent (Part 1)

From Fr. Ronald Check:

Journey to the Foot of the Cross: 10 Things to Remember For Lent
From Bishop D. L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This week…here are the first five:

1.      Remember the formula. The Church does a good job capturing certain truths with easy-to-remember lists and formulas: 10 Commandments, 7 sacraments, 3 persons in the Trinity. For Lent, the Church gives us almost a slogan—Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving—as the three things we need to work on during the season. 

2.      It’s a time of prayer. Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days. As we pray, we go on a journey, one that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him.  

3.      It’s a time to fast. With the fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meatless Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed, Lent is the only time many Catholics these days actually fast. And maybe that’s why it gets all the attention. “What are you giving up for Lent? Hotdogs? Beer? Jelly beans?” It’s almost a game for some of us, but fasting is actually a form of penance, which helps us turn away from sin and toward Christ.

4.      It’s a time to work on discipline. The 40 days of Lent are also a good, set time to work on personal discipline in general. Instead of giving something up, it can be doing something positive. “I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to pray more. I’m going to be nicer to my family, friends and coworkers.”

5.      It’s about dying to yourself. The more serious side of Lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control – it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die. The suffering and death of Christ are foremost on our minds during Lent, and we join in these mysteries by suffering, dying with Christ and being resurrected in a purified form.    

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lenten Obligations for those living in the United States, from Fr. Ronald Check

Building on last week’s look at the Universal Canon law binding all Catholics everywhere, the US Bishops are permitted to make specific “adaptation” to those Catholic living in the United States.  As the last Canon stated:  “Can.  1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.” 

Regarding Fasting and Abstinence:  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics.  In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.  For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59.  When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal.  The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards. Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris Church.  If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

Regarding Almsgiving:  The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels.  During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on “almsgiving,” which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.  As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is “a witness to fraternal charity” and  “a work of justice pleasing to God.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Holy Trinity on Father Z's Blog

Many Catholics know Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, or "Father Z," widely respected Catholic blogger, columnist, speaker, and formerly of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.   His website,, receives numerous visitors each day, who read and discuss his "commentary on Catholic issues & slavishly accurate liturgical translation."  Each week Father Z posits his readers, "Was there a good point offered during the sermon that you heard for your Sunday Mass?  Let us know."  Visitors to his blog comment in reply.

Courtesy of Jon Frey
This week, Holy Trinity made the list: 

Nathan says:
We were out of town this weekend, and went to High Mass (TLM) at Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia. Father Check focused on the “Ecce Homo” in Our Lord’s Passion, linking it to His temptation in the desert by saying that Our Lord showed us that we can follow God’s will in the very difficult things by practicing mortification in little ways.

What a beautiful church (the oldest German parish in the USA, BTW) and a very beautifully done Missa Canata. Everybody in Philly ought to be going there.

BTW, Father Z, we were in Philadelphia to see the National Curling Championships. You will be happy to know that Minnesotans were well represented, winning both the men’s and women’s national titles.

In Christ,

Thank you, Nathan!  Very glad you were able to join us down here in Philadelphia.  Thanks for the post!

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, a Minnesota native, avid fan of curling, and convert to Roman Catholicism, was ordained in Rome in 1991 by Pope John Paul II for the suburbicarian Diocese of Villetri-Segni, Italy, and received his licentiate in Patristic Theology from the 'Augustinianum,' where he is currently pursuing his doctorate.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Catechesis on Our Lenten Obligation, by Rev. Ronald Check

The following obligations are placed upon the faithful during the Season of Lent. This of course is a minimum course of action. Each person should take this Sacred Season very seriously.
The Code of Canon Law on “Days of Penance”. This applies to the whole Church throughout the world.

Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

Next week, there will be a detailed list of what the Episcopal Conference of the United States has outlined for Catholics living in America.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We Celebrate With Hymns Exuberant, by Anthony Corvaia Jr.

We celebrate with hymns exuberant
The memory of faith’s brave champion:
Great Mark, whose fame the whole of Christendom
Commemorates with songs harmonious.

We laud this true disciple of the Lord,
This protégé of Paul and Peter’s charge,
Who from their teaching learned the history
Of Christ’s brief life and briefer ministry,
The stories of His healings and His care
For those whom human fear had named unclean,
The sorrows of His passion, cross and death,
The silent witness of His empty tomb,
The glory of His resurrection bright,
And penned them as a lasting testament
To keep the Church in doctrine pure and sound.

Then he to fabled Egypt’s shore repaired
To preach what he, inspired by God, had writ
To them who sat as if at Peter’s feet –
The promise of eternal life in Christ.

So prized was he, that Alexandria
Anointed him both priest and patriarch
‘Til Rome from whence he came decreed his death.

And though his voice was stilled, his greater voice
Lived on, and louder grew, until it roared,
Until this Mark, this wingéd lion rose
And through the faithful who embraced his words
To jaded Rome to conquer it returned,
And won it not with deadly clash of steel,
But with the Spirit’s sword of living fire,
And thence to all the world, and so to us.

Then swell the anthem louder, louder still,
Until the hymn resounds in heav’n itself
And tempts the curious angelic choirs
To join with lesser voices here below
And render holy Mark his tribute due.

Copyright © 2008 Anthony Corvaia, Jr. All rights reserved.

The above poem is reposted to this site by kind permission of its original author.