Friday, January 25, 2008

Lenten Preparation

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays

The Catholic is entering the second of three principal feasts of the Ecclesiastical Year. Just as the Jews of old observed feasts besides the Sabbath to commemorate important events in their history, so Christ fulfills this tradition when the Catholic Church annually recalls events in Our Lord's life on earth with vivid representations, especially in the ceremonies during Holy Week (Spirago and Clark, 1921). The aspect of nature corresponds to these festivals. In Advent the nights are longer than the days and the life of vegetation is awaiting its break from dormancy as in the spiritual order before the coming of Christ. After Christmas the days begin to lengthen as the birth of Christ brings light to the world. At Easter nature awakens to new life during spring as Christ rises gloriously from the dead. At Pentecost vegetation is in full beauty of leaf and blossom as the coming of the Holy Spirit brings a fresh era for mankind with the birth of the Church (Spirago and Clark, 1921).

Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Dia del Mal Ejemplo (made that last one up), are terms that, to some, describe the last day of 'freedom' before Lent begins the following morning, Ash Wednesday. However this was not always the case in Catholic history. For many Catholics 40 days of Lent would begin 50, 60, even 70 days before the blessed event. So let's quickly go through the Lenten season.

First of all, the main event is Easter Sunday, the day Jesus Christ - God incarnate, defeated death and rose from the dead on His own Divine Power. The Feast of the Resurrection is what Lent functions to prepare the soul for. Why is this such an important day to mankind? Is it because we perform our social economic responsibility each year to help the global chocolate economy? Do we merely enjoy the ritual of dressing up and going to mass as a folksy family tradition? Is it the thought of having family spend a day of feverishly turning over rocks and dead branches to snatch up a coveted piece of candy? Although these predictable happenings on Easter seem like the only result of our celebrations, the cosmic event of the Resurrection of the Divine Redeemer sends spiritual shock waves through the cosmos.

The Resurrection is the shot that was heard across the universe. Without the Resurrection, life would be a primitive, dark, and barbaric underworld. We see how only in the nations who have rejected the Resurrection, their life has been a primitive violent world. On the other hand, the nations that embraced the Resurrection have flourished with the light of Christ. Those same western nations, now turning full circle and threatening to deny the Resurrection, are seeing their world change before their eyes into an empty shell of itself. A wilted rose under a dark cloud. Why is the denial of the Resurrection such an afront against God? Why is the denial of Christ seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven such a rude gesture of ingratitude? Why does our civilization begin to fall apart on itself when it denies the Saviour's works?

It can be revealed in what the Redeemer left for us, His Church, when She reminds us each year of the gratitude we owe to God and our dependence upon Him each Lent. It is chiefly during Lent that we embrace in the sufferings that Christ endured to save the world. Only by sharing in Christ's Passion can we truly appreciate His accomplishment. The accomplishment of correcting a wrong by a finite being - Adam against an infinite Being - God the Creator. For 4,000 years the human race awaited for the Lord to come. When the Messiah arrived in a manger in Bethlehem, He was the long awaited Redeemer promised by God to Adam and Eve, and the fulfillment of Israel's hope.

However, when we commemorate the Incarnation on Christmas Day, the Nativity only marks the beginning of Christ's works. His greatest achievement in terms of cosmic significance to the human race was his Passion, Death, and Resurrection into Heaven. Like a father who grueled a blizzard to bring his starving children food for the winter, Christ was scourged, humiliated, and crucified to bring His spiritually starved children the food of the Sacraments and the means of salvation. The father after accomplishing his task, awaits his children to accomplish their's - to simply chew the food the father provided. God's children, who now have the long awaited nourishment at our fingertips must do our part to reap the benefits of our Lord's sacrifice just as the child chews the long awaited food to nourish their starving bodies. The graces received during Lent are received only by the grace of the Precious Blood of Christ - His suffering and death.

The preparation for Lent includes the three Sundays called respectively, Septuagesima (70 days), Sexagesima (60 days), and Quinquagesima (50 days before Easter). They were so named because in the early days of Christianity many communities began the fast seventy, sixty, or seventy days before Easter. The Wednesday after Quinquagesima is called Ash Wednesday because of the ceremony of sprinkling ashes upon the foreheads of the faithful. On Ash Wednesday the season of Lent commences
(Spirago and Clark, 1921). It is 46 days before Easter, thus the number of days is completed without the six Sundays, on which we do not fast - they are true days of rest.

Lent beginning on Septuagesima Sunday, that is, 3 weeks before Easter, has its roots in Eastern tradition. The Eastern calendar regarded both Saturday and Sunday as festival days, and therefore as exempt from the Lenten fast. So in order to complete the forty days of Lent, the Greeks anticipated the penitential season by some weeks, and from this Sunday (70 days before Easter) onward abstained from meat. When the Latin Rite began Lent on Ash Wednesday, the devout wished for more. St. Gregory therefore instituted, or at least gave definite form to a cycle of three weeks' preparation for Lent - Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays (Lasance, 1945).

During Lent the public life of Our Lord is set before us - His forty day fast in the desert, His Passion and death. And so we continue with the second season of the Ecclesiastical Year. We recall Our Lord's life on earth as we fast 40 days with Christ and at Easter rise again with Him
(Spirago and Clark, 1921).

In preparation for Lent, the Catholic can therefore legitimately begin Lenten meditations, abstain from meat, fast, or perform other penitential and spiritual devotions as early as Septuagesima. A great devotion for preparing for Lent, and subsequently, Easter, is the meditation on the Way of the Cross.
In this devotion, an individual or group passes from station to station reciting prayers and meditating on each incident, or at least on the passion of Christ in general . It is thought that the Stations originated as a way that those unable to travel might follow the pilgrimage route in Jerusalem, the "Via Dolorosa" (The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia). The best method, I have found, is to set aside at least a 1/2 to 1 hour's time inside a quiet Catholic Church that displays reverent artistic representayions of the 14 Stations of the Cross on its walls. A prayer book or meditation guide covering the 14 Stations, should have a description of the Station, a reflection, and accompanying prayers to spiritually participate in Christ's Via Dolorosa.

If a Catholic Church is not available, a good online source is 'The Way of the Cross in Jerusalem'. Maintained by The Franciscans of the Holy Land and Malta
on Franciscan Cyberspot. The individual can view online the actual sacred sites in Jerusalem that make up the Way of the Cross. From home one can pray and meditate at each Station. The website points out:

"It is essentially a devotional exercise, a means which men and women can use to make contact with God, to adore Him, to thank Him, to increase their love for Him. Devotion to the sufferings of Christ, is particularly recommended for all who wish to live "upon the model of that charity which Christ showed to us when he gave himself up on our behalf" (Eph 6,2) . . . what really matters is to follow Christ on the Way of the Cross of his Passion, as humble companions."


Rev. Spirago, Francis; Rev. Clarke, Richard F. S.J., 1899. The Catechism Explained - An Exhaustive Exposition of the Catholic Religion; Tan Books and Publisher, Inc. 1993; p. 359-361.

Rev. Lasance, Francis Xavier, 1945. The New Roman Missal. Christian Book Club of America 1993; p. 1641.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Christians Expelled by Liberal Socialists

How deep can liberal socialists sink in the mud of deception? They believe they are gods inventing a new world and crafting new morality - except they are not creating. Liberals take what is already created by the One True God and try making a lie out of it, replacing reality with their fantasy world. Replacing God's covenant for mankind with their own devised covenant.

The latest casualty is the modern misrepresentation of Mother Teresa and Catholicism. The twisted facts include examples from the past and present (read article here). This is their pompous ambition, to broadcast to the world that Catholicism somehow endorses liberalism and therefore, the entire world must agree that socialists have nothing but the purest intentions. This theme of crowd pleasing is woven into the hearts of history's greatest tyrants.

Modern tyrants seek an approach called socialism or secular humanism. Their crafty twisting of the real world around them molded and formed to advance their agenda is what they have to do, I guess to stay alive. Otherwise, nobody in their right mind would subscribe to their twisted view of humanity. That is, unless reeducated by the socialist reeducation camps of the American school system and public media.

Without these Youth Camps no socialist liberal would rise to power with such ease (as Adolf Hitler did). No socialist viewpoint would be taken seriously. No mother would ever consider killing her own child through abortion. No population would justify abortion as a 'right' alongside noble freedoms such as free speech and religion. Religion would not be replaced by Secularism. The populace would keep the Faith of their Fathers and renounce moral decadence. There would be no tampering with the sacred institution of marriage. The civilian masses would counsel against, not approve of alternative lifestyles. The population would not have a cynical opinion of the middle ages, the Crusades, and Catholicism while simultaneously giving ear to outrageous conspiracy theories (find out more on true history of the middle ages here). History books would remain fair and objective. Catholicism would be taught as Religion in modern Catholic schools instead of alternative religions. The truth would not be redefined as a vague anomaly that can be invented by anyone and formed according to one's imagination. No, the world would acknowledge their inferiority to a higher power in heaven and strive to please the One who created them. No person would water down the truth to advance a novelty. This would be the world without the glamor of liberalism; without the false promises, pomps, and deceits of socialism.

One misnomer made by liberal revisionists is labeling Adolph Hitler a 'right wing extremist'. Wrong. Hitler was a socialist. In fact, his party, The National Socialist German Workers Party's ideology, stressed the racial purity of the German people and persecuted anyone it perceived as either an enemy or Lebensunwertes Leben, that is "life unworthy of life" (those considered to be "deviant" or a "source of social turmoil") in pursuit of a "Greater Germany". This concept was summarized by the author of Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton when he explained the Nazi policy:

"Of the five identifiable steps by which the Nazis carried out the principle of "life unworthy of life," coercive sterilization was the first. There followed the killing of “impaired” children in hospitals; and then the killing of “impaired” adults, mostly collected from mental hospitals, in centers especially equipped with carbon monoxide gas. This project was extended (in the same killing centers) to “impaired” inmates of concentration and extermination camps and, finally, to mass killings, mostly of Jews, in the extermination camps themselves."
More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will and between 75,000 and 250,000 killed because of an intellectual or physical disability under Nazi Germany's Aktion T4 program. Eerily similar to our many, newly created, liberal American government social programs, Nazi Germany's grim Aktion T4 program was headquartered under the State's social program entitled 'General Foundation for Welfare and Institutional Care'.

Sounds strikingly too familiar. 'Planned Parenthood' targets single mothers, the lower class, and minorities in pursuit of a "Greater America". Mothers and Fathers are told that disabled unborn children will live a 'substandard lifestyle' and encourage abortion. A sort of Nazi cleansing of an unwanted populace. What 'standard' are they referring to? The secular utopia of a socialist dreamland where God is dead, morality annulled, and tyranny rules.

Emperor Nero is another example of one who attempted to rewrite the truth to advance his personal agenda. According to Wikipedia, Tacitus, who witnessed the events of the Great Fire in Rome recorded that the population searched for a scapegoat and rumors held Nero responsible. To diffuse blame, Nero targeted a sect called the Christians. He ordered Christians to be thrown to dogs, while others were crucified and burned. Tactitus recorded:

"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace . . . Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired." (The Annals, Tacitus, Book XV)

Likened to Adolph Hitler and Nero, socialists rewrite history, twist the present, and lie about the future. They've squirmed their way into politics, religion, schools, and western philosophy by misrepresenting the facts. Truth is always the casualty when liberals get their hands on world events.

The Past

Trumping up stories about intolerance, ignorance, and outright buffoonery during the Middle Ages is a popular play liberals use to demean Roman Catholicism. Myth after myth have been debunked as summarized in part here. Regine Pernoud's book, Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths is an excellent source for those seeking objectivity. The fact is that civilization during the Middle Ages was civilized and contributed to the greatest breakthroughs in Science, Architecture, Mathematics, and Literature. Liberals just don't like the kind of results it produced like St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, which accomplished in philosophy what centuries of experts couldn't, including Aristotle and Plato.

The Present

Take Nancy Pelosi. As the first female Speaker of the House and a Catholic, she now fashions herself to be the crowned spokesperson for the Catholic Church. She blatantly exploits her Catholic roots for the socialist cause as reported here. LifeSite News reported:

Following the discovery of an ad for a sadomasochistic street parade in San Francisco which mocked the Last Supper replacing Christ and His Apostles with leather-clad (and unclad) homosexuals, Concerned Women for America (CWA) and other groups called on California legislators to denounce the anti-Christianity. Rather than denounce the ad, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has derisively dismissed any concerns.

Drew Hammill, Pelosi's press secretary, responded to media questions on the offensive ad saying, "As a Catholic, the speaker is confident that Christianity has not been harmed."
'As a Catholic' Nancy Pelosi says? Since when does Nancy Pelosi hold the patent on Catholicism? Why doesn't Drew Hammill or Pelosi ask for Pope Benedict's opinion? Reason: liberals use Catholicism to their own fancy, not to do justice to the truth. Nancy Pelosi's pro-abortion position, in clear contradiction to the Church's moral teaching, hardly puts her in a position to convincingly speak for Catholics. On CNN's "Inside Politics," November 14, Nancy Pelosi, the new House Minority Leader, said, "Yes, I'm a liberal Democrat, but I'm a conservative Catholic." Her comment was also cited in today's edition of USA Today, November 15. The Catholic League blasted Pelosi's false self-characterization noting her pro-abortion views extend even to defending partial birth abortion. Catholic League president William Donohue said, "In short, Pelosi's spin game is insulting. No conservative Catholic we know okays the killing of kids 80 percent born."

Another provocative statement from Nancy Pelosi came with her reply to how her pro-abortion political stance squares with the very Faith she claims to follow. She replied, "To me it isn't even a question. God has given us a free will. We're all responsible for our actions. If you don't want an abortion, you don't believe in it, [then] don't have one. But don't tell somebody else what they can do in terms of honoring their responsibilities." Sorry Speaker of the House, but when it comes to faith and morals, as a Catholic you're no longer Speaker, the Church is. And this was the Church's reply to Nancy's flaunts:

"It is categorically impossible for the same person to state that he or she believes simultaneously both what the Catholic Church teaches and that abortion is just a choice." - Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker

When Nancy says, "But don't tell somebody else what they can do in terms of honoring their responsibilities" shall we no longer charge parents for child abuse who leave their neglected children in 4 week old dirty diapers and dying of starvation so the parents can feed their drug addiction? Shall we not prosecute Amanda Yates for drowning her own flesh and blood, ages 1 to 7? After all, according to Nancy's twisted logic, we wouldn't want to tell these deadbeat parents 'what they can do in terms of honoring their responsibilities'. Now let's take Hillary Clinton. When she ran a campaign add showing (according to a LifeSite news article) a photo of Hillary waving beside Blessed Mother Teresa as the narrator, Clinton’s husband, former US President Bill Clinton, said “Hillary in effect, was the face of America, in Africa, in India…” Immediately after the picture there followed a clip of Hillary declaiming before the International Conference on Women in Beijing, “It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.” Blessed Mother Teresa, however, vehemently opposed equating abortion with either women’s rights or human rights and sent a letter to the same conference stating that “Motherhood is the gift of God to women” and that it is destroyed “by the evil of abortion.” - LifeSite News, Peter J. Smith, Friday June 15, 2007.

In a different conference in
February of 1994 at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, Mother Teresa spoke to American politicians about the greatest injustice:

"...If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?...Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion." Click for complete transcript.

While the audience gave a boisterous round of applause for Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton and his wife, Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper sat stubbornly quiet in protest. Read here for full account of the Conference. Mother Teresa also remarked about the country pushing liberalism across the globe:

"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign." (Mother Theresa -- "Notable and Quotable," Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)

Yet, with Mother Teresa gone before us from this world, the liberal politicians who support abortion are using her to promote their political career. And what is at the heart of their ambitions? To protect a woman's right to 'choose' murder. What about a man's right to 'choose' rape? "Well, that's just preposterous" says the pro-choicer, "the woman doesn't choose to be raped, she's a victim." Mother Teresa's point exactly . . . the child in the case of abortion is a victim. No child chooses to die. No man should be so sexually selfish as to rape women just as no woman should be so sexually selfish as to kill children. There is no justification for abortion . . . that is unless you share Adolph Hitler's vision of a "Greater Germany". Fathers should man up and protect their children, born and unborn. Women need to embrace their nurturing nature and love the child growing within. If we are hard pressed for examples of heroic mothers, we need go no further than our recent heroine Lorraine Allard who unselfishly gave her full life to give a new little one the chance she had (read article here).

The Future

What the future holds for America can only be viewed in light of how historical socialists took over their governments. It all begins with an idea, a novelty, and a 'vision' of a 'Greater ________' (fill nation here). History repeats itself and we are seeing a repeat of the rise of the Nazi regime in America called Socialism. The enforcement of socialism is nothing more than communism. Individuality is condemned, religion oppressed, and Christians persecuted. God help us if we lose this struggle.