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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Lent.


The Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Station at the Roman Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.

(S. Croce in Gerusalemme.)


Apse of the Basilica depicting the Finding of the Holy Cross.

Today is a day of liturgical monuments.

Beginning of the Ancient Roman Lent of 20 Days
The ancient name for this Sunday is Dominica in Vigesima
counting but 20 days left to Holy Saturday night.
It is the day of the caput jejunii,
the beginning of the primitive Roman Lent of three weeks before Easter
which was from about A.D. 250 until the Council of Nicaea
fixed the fast at forty days.
Previous to the primitive Roman Lent of three weeks,
the Fast lasted but a week at Rome, Alexandria, and Gaul
while in other places it was only for the last two days of Holy Week,
Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Celebration of the Middle of Lent.
Today is also the joyful celebration of
the middle of Lent
which Pope Gregory II transferred from last Thursday,
a day of Fast, to this Sunday.

Following the Greek Church
that keeps the feast of the Holy Cross on the middle day of Lent,
we celebrate mid-Lent today in the Station church of Rome called
"Holy Cross in Jerusalem."
It is Laetare Sunday,
we rejoice to have arrived at the mid point of the holy fasts.

+++++ Special Notice. +++++

If you have have not yet begun the Holy Fast of Lent,
do not lose courage,
begin it tomorrow,
it's still not too late to join the Lent of 2011.

If you begin your Lent tomorrow
you will be keeping
the primitive Roman Lent of 20 days
that was
celebrated by our ancestors
in the catacombs
from about the year A.D. 250.

Joining this ancient Lent is very worthwhile,
do it for Our Lord to show your love for Him.
It will also bring you graces for all your needs,
it will make some reparation for your sins,
and prepare your soul for the Holy Feast of Easter.

It is not too late.
Start tomorrow.
Join the Primitive Roman Fast.
Make a holy Lent
of the last 20 before Easter.

A Golden Rose given by Bl. John XXIII.

The Golden Rose is blessed today.

In the Middle Ages, on this day,
the Pope used to proceed to the station at Holy Cross in Jerusalem
holding in his hand a golden rose,
the mystical significance of which he afterwards explained to the people.
On his return he presented it to the Prefect of Rome,
and this gave rise to the custom, which continues to this day.
Pope Benedict XVI has sent seven Golden Roses,
the last in 2009 to the shrine of Our Lady of Europe.

Golden Rose in the Vatican Library.

The Pope's Blessing of the Golden Rose:
"O God! by Whose word and power all things have been created,
by Whose will all things are directed, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty,
Who art the joy and gladness of all the faithful,
that Thou wouldst deign in Thy fatherly love to bless and sanctify this rose,
most delightful in odour and appearance,
which we this day carry in sign of spiritual joy,
in order that the people consecrated by Thee
and delivered from the yoke of Babylonian slavery
through the favour of Thine only-begotten Son,
Who is the glory and exultation of the people of Israel
and of that Jerusalem which is our Heavenly mother,
may with sincere hearts show forth their joy.
Wherefore, O Lord, on this day,
when the Church exults in Thy name
and manifests her joy by this sign [the rose],
confer upon us through her true and perfect joy
and accepting her devotion of today;
do Thou remit sin, strengthen faith, increase piety,
protect her in Thy mercy, drive away all things adverse to her
and make her ways safe and prosperous,
so that Thy Church,
as the fruit of good works,
may unite in giving forth the perfume of the ointment
of that flower sprung from the root of Jesse
and which is the mystical flower of the field and lily of the valleys,
and remain happy without end
in eternal glory together with all the saints."


Finding of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem by St. Helena.

The Mass of the day.

The Epistle points us to the Jerusalem that is above;
the Gradual is in praise of Jerusalem and
the Tract speaks of Jerusalem as a type of the soul which trusts in the Lord.
Its faith is as immovable as Mount Sion, for its hope is in God,
whose grace is about His people, even as the hills encircle Jerusalem,
so that the enemy shall not prevail against them.
The Communion proclaims once more
the the glories of the mystical city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem.
It is built on the hill of faith like a walled city,
and its streets are connected with one another,
just as the blessed are united together in the Communion of Saints.
Through its twelve apostolic gates all the tribes of the Lord
enter to glorify that name of the Lord.

Fast Suspended on Sundays of Lent
The fast is suspended today on account of the Sunday
-not however, abstinence from flesh meat,
for in early days this was strictly observed all through Lent in Rome
until the 20th Century,
just as it is now by the Russian and Oriental Churches.

+
Hymn.
Sacro jejunii stadio jam dimidio superemenso, ...
We have passed one half of our journey through the holy fast;
let us then, as it behooves us,joyfully complete what remains.
Let us anoint our souls with the oil of good works,
that we may be made worthy to celebrate the divine sufferings of Christ our Lord,
and to be brought to His venerable and holy Resurrection.

Jesus, He that planted the vine abd hired the labourers, is near at hand.
Come ye brave fasters! let us receive the reward;
for He that pays us is rich and merciful.
After our short labours, He will requite our souls with His mercy.

Come, let us who are in the mystic Vine, produce fruits of penance.
Here labouring, let our feasting be, not in meat and drink,
but in prayer and fasting and good works.
Our Lord, being pleased with our labour, will pay us with that,
whereby He, the one God, rich in mercy,
will forgive us the debt of our sins.

4 comments:

wheat4paradise said...

What are the specific requirements for keeping the Holy Fast for the last 20 days of Lent?

Peter said...

ditto wheat4paradise, I presume it excludes Sundays?

Transalpine Redemptorists said...

Dear Wheat and Peter

The old Lent was tough and had two parts:
1) Abstain from alcohol, meat, eggs and dairy for every day of Lent including Sundays.
2) Eat one meal a day about 3.00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday midday. (No fasting on Sundays which begins with Vespers on Saturday afternoon).

Because the Lent was so difficult, in the Middle Ages the meal was taken earlier, as early as 12.00 midday.

The Divine Office hour for 3.00 p.m. was called None (meaning the 9th hour of the day, when the fast could be broken). So when the breaking of the fast with the only meal of the day was brought forward to 12.00 midday, they also anticipated the liturgical hour of None, saying it also at midday before they broke their fast.
From this came our word NOON, (None to Noon) for midday.

I suggest that you do not try and take on the ancient Lent; it is too difficult. But do something!
For example:

Part 1. Abstain: from all meat only, on all the days of Lent that remain (but eat eggs, dairy and take some alcohol for your stomach sake if needed).
Part 2: Fast: This year settle for no breakfast except black coffee, perhaps the same for supper? Or not. Eat a single meal at NOON (12.00) or before 3.00. Perhaps.

Whatever you do, do something however small, for the love of Jesus and for the forgiveness of your sins.

Done in the right spirit, it will be pleasing to Our Lord.

Next year abtain and fast a few days longer. Why not?

God bless you fast and abstinence and bring you to a joyful Easter on the feast of Feasts.

Devotedly
Fr. Michael Mary

Anne B said...

Thank you, dear Father, for your encouragement!

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