The Season of Septuagesima has reminded us of the need in which
we stand of uniting ourselves in the spirit of penance with the
redeeming work of Christ. Lent, with its fast and penitential exercises,
will enable us to associate ourselves with that work still more closely.
Our souls, in their rebellion against God have become truly the slaves
of the world, the flesh and the devil. During this holy season, the
Church shows us our Lord in the desert (1st Sunday of Lent) and in His
public life, fighting to deliver us from the triple chain of pride, luxury,
and avarice by which we are bound to created things. When, by His
teachings and sufferings, He has rescued us from our captivity and
restored us to the liberty of the children of God, He will give back to
us in the Easter festivities, that divine life which we have lost.
Further, the liturgy in Lent, wholly flowing as it does from the
Master’s teachings and from His spirit of penance, was used formerly
for the instruction of catechumens and to deepen the contrition of
public penitents, both of whom looked forward to rising again with
Christ, by receiving the sacraments of Baptism or Penance during the
Paschal Triduum. These are two thoughts which we shall find the
Church constantly developing throughout the whole of Lent as she
shows us, in the faithless Jews, the sinners who can only return to God
by sharing in our Lord’s fast (Gospel for the 1st Sunday), and in the
Gentiles called in their place, the effects of the Sacrament of
Regeneration (Gospel for the 2nd and 3rd Sundays) and of the Eucharist
(Gospel for the 4th Sunday) in our souls.
Just as our Lord, in His retirement from the world, fasted and
prayed for forty days and then by His life of apostleship taught us that
we must die to ourselves, so the Church, during this holy quarantine
preaches the death in us of the man of sin. This “death” will be
revealed in our soul by the struggle against pride and self-love, by a
spirit of prayer and a more diligent meditation of God’s word; in our
bodies by fasting, abstinence and mortification of the senses; and
finally, in our whole life by a greater detachment from the pleasures
and riches of this world, leading us to be more generous in almsgiving
and to abstain from worldly amusements. St. Andrew Daily Missal