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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sunday, January 24, 2016 Septuagesima

Sirach, Chapter 22, Verse 16
A wooden beam firmly bonded into a building is not loosened by an earthquake; So the mind firmly resolved after careful deliberation will not be afraid at any time.

A prudent mind firmly resolved is undisturbed by violent and conflicting thoughts. Sometimes we all have senseless thoughts and feelings which shake us but faith is a firm anchor for our thoughts. We indeed do have the power within ourselves to choose not to react to impulsive thoughts.

Holiness consists in friendship with God. If we would be in any sense the friends of God, we must have at least that desire for holiness without which such friendship would be impossible; growth in the knowledge of God is the deepening of this friendship. To know God is to know self and if we know ourselves well, we know have one or two prominent sins that have dogged our life’s path for years, and against these we struggle bravely and are conscious that God is helping us. Sin and sanctity reveal us to ourselves; therefore, if there is to be any spiritual growth, there must be a growth in self-knowledge. We cannot make any serious attempt to conquer our sins until we know what who we are and who’s we are. Therefore the greatest advancement we make is when we learn to examine ourselves in the light of Christ.[1]

To examine ourselves in the light of Christ a good place to begin is with the seven heavenly virtues: Humility, Charity, Chastity, Patience, Temperance, Diligence, and kindness.[2]

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just. (Ps. 19:10)

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Ps. 19:15)

Today is traditionally Septuagesima.

Three weeks prior to Ash Wednesday, on the day before Septuagesima Sunday, a touching ceremony is held. A choir assembles, chants the divine office and, afterwards, sings a bittersweet hymn bidding farewell to the word "Alleluia": We do not now deserve to sing the Alleluia forever; Guilt forces us to dismiss you, O Alleluia. For the time approaches in which we must weep for our sins.

So important was Lent to both Eastern and Western Christians that they actually had a separate season to prepare for it. Thus, the day after Septuagesima Sunday, they would begin a period of voluntary fasting that would grow more severe as it approached the full and obligatory fast of Lent. The amount of food would be reduced, and the consumption of certain items, such as butter, milk, eggs, and cheese, would gradually be abandoned. Starting on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, this self-imposed asceticism would culminate in abstinence from meat. Thus the name for this seven-day period before Ash Wednesday is "Carnival," from the Latin carne levarium, meaning "removal of meat." Finally, within the week of Carnival, the last three days (the three days prior to Lent) would be reserved for going to confession. This period was known as "Shrovetide," from the old English word "to shrive," or to have one's sins forgiven through absolution.[3]


[1] Maturin, Basil W.  Christian Self-Sophia Institute Press.
[3] http://www.holytrinitygerman.org/septlent.html


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