Sunday 18 February 2018

First Sunday of Lent 2018

First Sunday of Lent 2018 

We are less than a week into Lent. and to be honest I have really struggled with what I chose to give up this year. I wrote a post last week about 'Some Suggested Reading Options for Lent 2018' It is not too late to pick up something to read during the rest of lent this year. lent is my favorite liturgical season. I appreciate the discipline, the spiritual focus, the sacrifices.

First Reading Genesis 9:8-15
Responsorial Psalm 25: 4-9 Response 10
Second Reading II Peter 3:18-22
Gospel Mark 1:12-15

Today we had another session training new altar servers. During the first practice I 'acted' as Father. And we did a full dry run of a mass. I am always uncomfortable with this part of teaching new altar servers. But it is necessary. Then Father joined us and we did another walk through. The children are doing a wonderful job picking it up. and my oldest two have given up 4 Saturday afternoon to help, even though they are already trained. Today we has a new server ask us some really tough questions:

What if your parents do not want you to be an altar server?
What if your parents do not want you to go to church?
What if your patents do not want you to be Catholic?

They were hard questions especially from a student in grade 4, 5, or 6. and I am not sure if their parents are separated and this is coming from one side. or if both of the child's parents feel that way. My children and I have been praying about this and it has been on my mind all afternoon and evening. 

The first hymn we sang tonight was Again We Keep This Solemn Fast

Again we keep this solemn fast,
A gift of faith from ages past,
This lent, which binds us lovingly
To faith and hope and charity

The law and prophets from of old
In figured ways this lentforetold
Which Christ, all ages' Lord and Guide,
In these last days has sanctified

More sparing, therefore, let us make
The words we speak, the food we take, 
Our sleep, our laughter, ev'ry sense;
Learn peace through holy penitence

Let us avoid each harmful way
That lures the careless mind astray;
By watchful prayer our spirits free
From scheming of the enemy.

We pray, O blessed Three in One,
Our God while endless ages run,
That this, our Lent of forty days,
May bring us growth and give you praise.

The text to this is ascribed to Saint Gregory the Great circa 540-604. Translated by Peter J. Scagnelli in 1949, and taken from the Catholic Book of Worship III. We only sang the first three versus for the entrance. But It struck a cord with me and after my time of prayer at the end of mass, while my children were clearing the altar and going to confession I reread it a few times and copied it down. I have been reading a lot this week about how Roman Catholic lent post Vatican II is so easy. Comparing it to current orthodox practices or pre-Vatican II requirements. Amy Welborn wrote an excellent piece this week. One of the key takeaways for me was that the requirements are minimums. To quote Welborn:
"The whole idea of the post-Conciliar changes to penitential fasting and abstinence was to present, as it were, a minimum on paper, with the expectation that the individual, flush with the glory of the Freedom of the Christian (and the Spirit of the Council), would take it from there. 
The legal minimalism was supposed to unleash an internal maximalist lurking in all of us who had just been waiting to be treated like an adult instead of a child defined by adherence to rigid rules."
From there I got to thinking about my observance. To be honest my goals this year were easier than many years in the past and event recently. And yet I find that i am struggling with them more than I normally would. Maybe I aimed too low and that is why I am struggling. Maybe I need to dig deeper and like the word of the hymn states my growth will come through holy penitence, not through being a slacker. 

The responsorial psalm for this weekends mass is:

R. Your paths, Lord, are love and faithfulness for those who keep your covenant.

Make me to know your ways o lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation.

Be mindful of your mercy, O lord, and of
your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
According to your steadfast love 
remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
he leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.

We are only 4 days into lent, there are still 43 days left counting the Sundays. I need to focus on god, and draw nearer to him. and it is my prayer that you are drawn to him this lent and that his Holy Spirit is poured out afresh on you as you seek God this lent. Blessings on you and your family.

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