The Lenten Journey 2014

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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Pondero » March 9th, 2011, 3:03 pm

Today, is Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent and our local Roman Catholic Church was crowded as if it was a Sunday, and this was the 8:30 a.m. Mass and there are two more to be held today too. The ashes were placed on my head in the form of a sign of the cross by a minister of the Eucharist and afterwards I returned to my seat as Mass was only half way through. The consecration had not yet taken place . When the ashes, ( last years burned Sunday Palms) are placed on your head the minister or priest is supposed to say."Remember Man thou art but dust and to dust thou shalt return." However, our minister of the Eucharist didn't say anything at all - probably because he was overwhelmed by the number of people in his section of the Church, and there were three ministers of the Eucharist and two priests putting ashes on foreheads this morning.

When the Mass ended I was surprised and happy to see my daughter ( kms away from her home) at the Mass. She looked very beautiful as always, and gave me a hug and kiss on the way out. :) She was assigned to visit the catholic school next door ( it is her job, as autistic support teacher for that school.) that is why she was there today. Other teachers were in their classrooms and so were the students.

Now, I don't have to fast because of my age, but as I am in good health I will do. Also, during Lent one is supposed to do some Lenten spiritual reading, and not just observe the fasting and abstinence laws on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This I will do.
“ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (#407).
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Theophilus » March 11th, 2011, 12:22 pm

Some quotes from Leo the Great:

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"As we are therefore beginning this sacred season, dedicated to the purification of the soul, let us be careful to fulfill the Apostolic command that we cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit (2Cor. 7:11), so that restraining the conflict that exists between the one and the other substance, the soul, which in the Providence of God is meant to be the ruler of the body, may regain the dignity of its rightful authority, so that, giving offense to no man, we may not incur the contumely of evil mongers. With just contempt shall we be tormented by those who have no faith, and from our wickedness evil tongues will draw weapons to wound religion, if the way of life of those who fast be not in accord with what is needed in true self-denial. For the sum total of our fasting does not consist in merely abstaining from food. In vain do we deny our body food if we do not withhold our heart from iniquity, and restrain our lips that they speak no evil."
(Lent the Season of Purification)


"Blessed is the mind that passes the time of its pilgrimage in chaste sobriety, and loiters not in the things through which it has to walk, so that, as a stranger rather than the possessor of its earthly abode, it may not be wanting in human affections, and yet rest on the Divine promises."
(Homily 49: On Great Lent)


"...We must then so moderate our rightful use of food that our other desires may be subject to the same rule. For this is also a time of peace and serenity, in which having put away all stains of evil doing we strive after steadfastness in what is good. Now is the time when generous Christian souls forgive offences, pay no heed to insults, and wipe out the memory of past injuries. Now let the Christian soul exercise itself in the armour of justice, on the right hand and on the left, so that amid honour and dishonour, evil report and good, the praise of men will not make proud the virtue that is well rooted, the conscience that has peace, nor dishonour cast it down. The moderation of those who worship God is not melancholy, but blameless."
(Lent the Season of Purification)
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Theophilus » March 18th, 2011, 11:29 pm

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The mind is wounded, the body is feeble, the spirit is sick, the word has lost its power, life is ebbing, the end is at the doors. What then will you do, wretched soul, when the Judge comes to try your case?

I have reviewed Moses' account of the creation of the world, my soul, and then all canonical Scripture which tells you the story of the righteous and the unrighteous. But you, my soul, have copied the latter and not the former, and have sinned against God.

The Law has grown weak, the Gospel is unpractised, the whole of the Scripture is ignored by you; the Prophets and every word of the Just have lost their power. Your wounds, my soul, have multiplied, and there is no physician to heal you.

I am bringing before you examples from the New Scripture, my soul, to lead you to compunction. So emulate the righteous and avoid following the sinners, and regain Christ's grace by prayers, fasts, purity and reverence.

Christ became man and called to repentance robbers and harlots. Repent, my soul! The door of the Kingdom is already open, and the transformed pharisees, publicans and adulterers are seizing it ahead of you. (Matthew 21:31; 11:12)

Christ became a babe and conversed in the flesh with me, and he voluntarily experienced all that pertains to our nature, apart from sin; and He showed you, my soul, an example and image of His own condescension. (Matthew 1:25)

Christ saved wise men, called shepherds, made crowds of infants martyrs, glorified old men and aged widows, whose deeds and life, my soul, you have not emulated. But woe unto you when you are judged! (Matthew 2:12; Luke 2:9-12; Matthew 2:16; Luke 2:25-38)

When the Lord had fasted for forty days in the wilderness, He at last became hungry, showing His human nature. Do not be despondent, my soul, if the enemy attacks you, but let him be beaten off by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 4:1-11; 17:21; Mark 9:29)

      Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:


Let us glorify the Father, exalt the Son, and faithfully worship the Divine Spirit, inseparable Trinity, Unity in essence, as the Light and Lights, the Life and Lives, giving life and light to the ends of the earth.

      Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.



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Protect thy city, spotless Mother of God, for in thee it faithfully reigns, and in thee is made strong, and through thee it conquers and routs every trial and temptation, and spoils its foes and rules its subjects.
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Pondero » March 24th, 2011, 10:31 pm

It is difficult to remember what Lent is all about. We start off with a bang on Ash Wednesday, when we have ashes put on our foreheads, to remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Of course the soul lives on, otherwise there would be no purpose in Christianity never mind Lent. The soul as we all know ( and that is something all Christians can agree on) will join with the body at a later date for an eternity in Heaven or Hell.
Today, as I have started to do every week for some time now, I visit the Blessed Sacrament which is exposed at St.Clement's Catholic Church in Etobicoke. I spend an hour there praying or just sitting or kneeling there. It helps me I believe that.

But, I started that before Lent so that is not a Lenten penance. As one who dislikes the stations of the cross on Fridays, I try to read Papal encyclicals a little at a time, there are many cross reference in there to Bible passages, and most importantly it contains the Church's official interpretation of what is in the Bible, as parts of the Bible can easily be misunderstood. Some parts are quite plain and few disagree among the denominations as the meaning of them.

Still, I do think I am not doing enough, but in my lethargy I find it difficult to improve, but improve I must. Confessions are on all day next Saturday at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, which is my parish church and I shall attend. I always have trouble deciding what sins I have committed and which of them are mortal and which are venial. It takes thought and work to accurately decide which is which.
I''ll tell you a little secret, I don't have to, but I will, I was discussing my neighbour whose fence was falling down and my near fight with his
"man" as he called him, and my temper on that occasion. The priest did say he thought I was a Type A personality ( and it was obvious he didn't approve of that as a Christian in regard to what I did.) I accept that I was a sinner, but I think he is wrong in his psychological assessment based on a five to ten minute confession. ( I didn't argue with him!) Apart from that I will try to pick another priest on Saturday, if I can remember which of the two confessionals the new one will be in.
“ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (#407).
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Theophilus » April 4th, 2011, 10:44 pm

See, see that I am God, Who rained manna and made water spout from the rock of old for my people in the wilderness, by My right hand, and by My strength alone.

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

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'I have killed a man to the wounding of myself', said Lamech, 'and a young man to my own hurt', he cried out wailing. But you, my soul, do not tremble, while polluting the flesh and defiling the mind. (Genesis 4:23)

You would have contrived to build a tower, my soul, and erect a stronghold for your lusts, had not the Creator confounded your plans and brought your schemes crashing to earth. (Genesis 11:3-4)

O how I have emulated that old murderer Lamech! By my pleasure-loving cravings I have killed my soul as the man, my mind as the young man, and my body as my brother, like Cain the murderer. (Genesis 4:23)

The Lord rained fire from the Lord of old, and burnt up the wanton wickedness of Sodom. But you, my soul, have kindled the fire of hell in which you are about to be bitterly burnt. (Genesis 19:24)

I am struck and wounded! See the arrows of the enemy with which my soul and body are pierced all over! See the wounds, the sores and the mutilations that cry out and betray the blows of my self-chosen passions!

Holy mother Mary, pray to God for us.


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

    Unoriginate, uncreated Trinity, indivisible Unity, accept me who repent, save me who have sinned. I am Thy creation, despise me not, but spare me and deliver me from the fire of condemnation.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Theophilus » April 10th, 2011, 10:18 pm

5th Sunday of Lent: St Mary of Egypt

The biography of this wonderful saint was written by St. Sophronios, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. (see here)

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Once, during the Honorable Fast [Great Lent], a certain priest-monk, the Elder Zosimas, withdrew into the wilderness beyond the Jordan, a twenty-day trek. Suddenly, he caught sight of a human being with a withered and naked body whose hair was as white as snow and who began to flee from the sight of Zosimas. The elder ran for a long while until this person crouched down in a brook and cried out: "Abba Zosimas forgive me for the sake of the Lord. I cannot face you for I am a naked woman." Zosimas then tossed his outer garment to her which she wrapped around herself and then showed herself to him. The elder was frightened upon hearing his name spoken from the mouth of this woman he did not know.

Following his prolonged insistence, the woman related her life story. She was born in Egypt and at the age of twelve began to live a life of debauchery in Alexandria where she spent seventeen years in this perverted way of life. Driven by the adulterous flame of the flesh, one day she boarded a boat which was sailing for Jerusalem. Arriving at the Holy City, she wanted to enter the church in order to venerate the Honorable Cross, but some invisible force restrained her and prevented her from entering the church. In great fear, she gazed upon the icon of the All-Holy Mother of God in the vestibule and prayed that she be allowed to enter the church to venerate the Honorable Cross, all the while confessing her sinfulness and uncleanness and promising that she would go wherever the All-Pure One would direct her. She was then permitted to enter the church.

Having venerated the Cross she again entered the vestibule and, before the icon, gave thanks to the Mother of God. At that very moment she heard a voice saying: "If you cross over Jordan you will find real peace!" Immediately she purchased three loaves of bread and started out for the Jordan where she arrived that same evening. The next day she received Holy Communion in the Monastery of St. John and crossed over the Jordan river.

She remained in the wilderness for forty-eight years in great torment, fear and struggle with passionate thoughts as though with wild beasts. She fed on vegetation. Afterward, when she stood for prayer, Zosimas saw her levitate in the air. She begged him to bring her Holy Communion the following year on the shore of the Jordan where she would then come to receive it.

The following year, Zosimas arrived on the shore of the Jordan in the evening with Holy Communion. He wondered how this saint would cross the Jordan. At that moment, in the light of the moon, he saw her as she approached the river, made the sign of the cross over it and walked upon the water as though upon dry land.

After Zosimas administered Holy Communion to her, she begged him to come the following year to the same brook where they had first met. Zosimas came and discovered her lifeless body on that spot. Above her head in the sand was written: "Abba Zosimas, bury the body of the humble Mary on this site; render dust to dust. I died on April 1, the same night of the saving-suffering of Christ, after having received Communion of the Divine Mysteries." From this inscription Zosimas first learned her name and the other and awesome miracle was that, she, on that same night the previous year, when she received Holy Communion, arrived at this brook which took him twenty days to travel. Thus, Zosimas buried the body of this wonderful saint, Mary the Egyptian.

When he returned to the monastery Zosimas related the entire history of her life and the miracles which he had personally witnessed. Thus, the Lord knows how to glorify penitent sinners. St. Mary is also commemorated on the Fifth Sunday of the Honorable Fast (Fifth Sunday in Lent). The Church holds her up as an example to the faithful during these fast days as an incentive for repentance. She died about the year 530 A.D.

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In you the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother;
For taking up your cross, thou followed Christ,
And by your deeds you taught us to overlook the flesh, for it passes away,
And to attend to the soul since it is immortal.
Therefore, O righteous Mary, your spirit rejoices with the Angels.
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Theophilus » April 16th, 2011, 10:37 pm

Having Completed the Forty Days That Profit Our Souls

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Saturday of the Sixth Week ends the Holy Forty Day Fast. In the services for this day we sing:

      Having completed the forty days that profit our souls, we ask You, O Lover of man: Grant us also to behold the Holy Week of Your Passion, that we may glorify Your mighty acts and Your ineffable plan for our sakes.


      Together with these in the service for this day the Holy Church prepares her children to worthily commemorate Lazarus raised from the dead and especially the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, appealing:

      Having completed the Forty Day Fast that is pleasing to our soul, let us cry out: Rejoice, O City of Bethany, the home of Lazarus, rejoice Martha and Mary, his sisters. For tomorrow Christ will come, by His word to give life to your dead brother.

      Those who are in the deserts and on the mountains, and in the caves, let us gather together carrying palms, to meet the King and the Master: for He comes to save our souls.

      For this meeting we carefully go, offering branches of virtue to Him.


Those who carried out the Holy Forty Day Fast as taught by the Holy Church, with fasting and reverence, in prayer and fervent compunction who have cleansed the soul and heart with tears of repentance, who with fervent love for the Lord have sincerely united themselves to Him by partaking of His body, who created fruits worthy of repentance, and was strengthened, as much as possible, for the way of the Lord's precepts. For these the Holy Forty Day Fast was truly "pleasing to the soul".

Deprivation of the more pleasant, fattening food has brought forth, certainly, the perceived ease and vigor of the body, the freshness of ideas, the vivacity and activity of all the powers of the soul, the pleasant sensation of internal calm and inner peace. Prayerful vigils, seeming so difficult for the distracted mind, have become not only easy, but also sweetness for the heart, bearing fruit for the spirit, pouring into the soul truly lenten joy full of grace and comfort, light and life. Everything external has lost power and authority over him through the soul which has become more concentrated within itself, has grown fonder of conversation alone with God and with his own conscience; that before he was occupied, carried away with the imaginary and deceptive pleasure, which now has become worthless, having lost its allure, became unworthy of attention, finally, unpleasant and boring. The carnal passions themselves, not finding food any more in a body tamed by fasting, neither in the soul concentrated in thinking about God and prayer, have become weakened and have stopped. The very apparently untamable passions of the soul: anger and rage, ambition and envy, spite and hatred, having met with the spirit of repentance and sorrow before God, with thoughts about death and the judgment of God, with reflection about the suffering of Christ and about the truth of God punishing all kinds of sins, are pacified and suppressed. The conscience, having been delivered from the violence of the passions, having woken from the sleepiness of the vanity and sweetness of everyday life, clarified by the light of the Word of God, touched by the prayers and hymns of the Church, itself became impressionable by the power of its accusations, explanations and inclinations from the depth of sin on the mountain of the law of God and from the allure of temptations to the beauty of virtue and spiritual perfection. The entire soul fervently fasting and praying is illuminated by the grace of light: it knows itself and all the surroundings more clearly, it begins to understand through faith and hope the spiritual world more clearly, it rules more freely over its flesh, above its needs, propensities and strivings, it more deeply feels the need for the highest treasure, the righteousness in Christ, the easing of conscience, the grace of coexistence.

He who has felt in himself these spiritual fruits of fasting that awaits him coming on the eve of the higher holy days, has comfort without compare with anything earthly; therefore everything that is truly joyful and comforting for us in the present life, is enclosed for us in the death of the Savior on the Cross and His Resurrection, remembered by the Holy Church in the holy days of Passion Week and Pascha. And the true faster, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, will enter into the living, sincere partnership of His passion, in order to be glad later by the unutterable joy of His Resurrection which makes usual the more unusual joy of the Lord of pure spirits which no one and nothing on earth can take away from the soul, the loving Lord.

But, according to the unutterable mercy and longsuffering of God, those who carried out the Holy Forty Day Fast not as if it would demand holiness of its days and the true benefit of the soul, who even during these days of universal repentance and salvation did not begin, as it should, the work of his salvation, to them is still the opening of the door of the mercy of God, Who opens the entrance to the holy place of repentance for the reception of mercy and the remission of sins, life and salvation.

And each sinner should primarily take advantage of the coming saving days of the Passion of Christ for his sanctification and salvation, and not remain a cold and unfeeling spectator of the suffering of Christ undertaken for our salvation, and not be indifferent and for his own self to partake of the share which awaits him in eternity. Vividly thinking about the "intolerable anger of the Lord against sinners", he with special fervent compunction, according to the management of the Holy Church, must be moved to appeal:

      Despising the divine commands, my soul, you have been embraced by the snares of the enemy, and by your own choice you have betrayed yourself to corruption. Sunk in slumber through your many sins, you have profaned the divinely woven garment and made yourself unfit for the royal marriage; but you shall be dragged away because of your sin. For if you sit at the wedding feast clad in the clothing of the passions, He will ask you how you came in, and you will be cast out from the bridal chamber. But call out to the Savior: O Dreadful Eye, You have become what I am, without ceasing to be who You were. Before Your Cross, for my sake You have worn a mantle of mockery, tear off my sackcloth, and clothe me with the robe of gladness; and deliver me from the outer darkness and eternal weeping, and have mercy on me.


And who will carry out the saving days of the Passion of Christ with the sincere confession of one's sins, with the resolute intention not to return to one's former sinful life, with the firm desire to please the Lord by fulfilling His sacred commandments, that one will not lose the reward of life-creating joy of the resurrection of Christ: "for He is the Master who loves mankind, who accepts the last, as He also accepts the first, who gives rest even at the eleventh hour as He does at the first hour". (See details in The Complete Sermons of Demetrius, Archbishop of Chersonese, vol.4, pp. 355).
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Theophilus » April 16th, 2011, 10:39 pm

Palm Sunday: the Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem

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And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage unto the Mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, "Go into the village opposite you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them unto Me.

And if any man say aught unto you, ye shall say, `The Lord hath need of them,' and straightway he will send them."

All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,

"Tell ye the daughter of Zion, `Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass.'"

And the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt and put on them their clothes, and they set Him thereon.

And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; and others cut down branches from the trees and strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried out, saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"


And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, "Who is this?" And the multitude said, "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee."

More about the feast of Palm Sunday>>

        By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, You did confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God!

        Like the children with the palms of victory, we cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death:

        Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Theophilus » April 18th, 2011, 2:44 pm

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        Behold, the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night,
        And blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching;
        And again unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless.
        Beware, therefore, O my soul, lest thou be overcome with sleep,
        Lest thou be given up to death, and be shut out from the Kingdom.
        But rouse thyself and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O God,
        Through the prayers of the Theotokos, have mercy on us.
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Re: The Lenten Journey 2011

Postby Theophilus » April 20th, 2011, 9:49 am

            Hymn of Kassiani
            Or the Hymn of the Penitential Woman

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            O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins,
            perceiving Your divinity,
            took the part of a myrrh-bearer;
            weeping, she brings oils of myrrh
            before your burial.

            "Woe to me," she says, "for night
            is a frenzy of license to me,
            a dark, moonless love of sin.

            "Receive the fountains of my tears,
            O You who gather the sea-waters into clouds
            Incline to the groanings of my heart,
            O You who laid low the heavens by Your humility.

            "I shall kiss Your immaculate feet,
            wipe them again with the hair of my head,
            those feet at whose sound Eve in Paradise hid for fear.

            "The multitude of my sins, the depths of your judgments,
            who can search them out, O Savior of souls?
            Do not despise me, Your handmaiden,
            O You whose mercy admits of no measure."

(Matthew 26:6-16)

Listen to the Hymn (in English)
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