Saturday, March 27, 2010
Seminarian, Third College
The sacred season of Lent is upon us again, a season in which we commemorate the sufferings and sorrows of Our Lord and prepare ourselves for His Resurrection. Concerning this holy season, Abbot Guéranger O.S.B., a celebrated liturgist of the 19th century writes:
The Church has made [Lent] a time of recollection and penance…she would therefore bring into it everything that could excite the faith of her children, and encourage them to go through the arduous work of atonement for their sins.
It is into this same spirit, one of both recollection and penance, that all of us here at St. Charles are encouraged to enter and to live. However, as Abbot Guéranger says, this is a challenging and “arduous work.” For this reason, St. Charles, just as parishes and dioceses around the world, provides us with various spiritual practices and events to assist us.
Among these practices are Rosaries, Poor Man’s Lunches, Alms, and even a Lenten Concert titled “From Darkness to Light: A Choral Meditation on the Seven Last words of Jesus.” On Fridays these Lenten practices grow even more focused, and it is on these devotions that I would like to focus. Beginning at 3:00pm, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration until Vespers at 5:00pm. During this time we have the opportunity to kneel and pray before our Savior, He who “was pierced for our offenses” (Isaiah 53:5) and “by [whose] stripes we were healed” (Isaiah 53:7).
Benediction concludes the time of silent adoration, and Vespers directly follows. In this time of Lent, the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours powerfully expresses the same spirit explained by Abbot Guéranger. The texts focus on prayer, fasting, and contrition, but also on the joyful expectation of Easter, which strengthens us and provides us with hope.
The Stations of the Cross, composed by St. Alphonsus, immediately follow Vespers. This devotion is one of my favorites, for it is in the stations that I am able to console the Lord in His passion and to accompany Him who had “trodden the winepress alone” (Isaiah 63:3). Between each station a strophe of the “Stabat Mater” (a Lenten Marian Hymn) is sung in honor of Our Sorrowful Mother, whose grief, as St. Anselm remarks, was so great that it was enough to cause her a thousand deaths. This grief of Our Mother is extremely important to me, for I realize that through it she pleads to her Son on my behalf. It is through her, with her, and by her, that I hope to be saved.
As these last days of Lent come to a close, I pray that all of you may have the strength to finish out the season with solid devotion, so that you may enter into the Easter joy freed from all that may have hindered you from Christ. And I ask you to please pray the same for myself and my brother seminarians.