Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dominica in Septuagesima

Today (or rather last night with Vespers) we begin the preparatory cycle for Easter. The period of Septuagesima is a time of extended preparation before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. According to some scholars, the number 70 (Septuagesima) represents the 70 years of Babylonian Exile. It is also noteworthy that Quinquegesima Sunday is exactly 50 Days before Easter, which is how I always figured it was named.
This period is a time for us to begin planning our lenten observance. How are we going to enter into the holy season of Lent? As Catholics we do believe that penance purges us from our sins. By making such an offering to God, we exercise our baptismal Priesthood. By offering sacrifice, we draw nearer to Christ who gave all to the Father on our account.
Anyone who has ever experienced profound suffering has come closer to Christ crucified. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta says that suffering is when the Crucified Christ bends down from the cross to kiss us. One lady told her that she wished He wouldn't kiss her so much! That reaction is usually ours.
Nobody wants to suffer. There is a difference between wanting to suffer and willing it. Christ willed to suffer for all mankind. At the same time, He didn't necessarily want to do it -- "If this cup can pass from me..." It does not make us bad that we don't want to suffer. It is meritorious to choose suffering, which is not, by definition, desired.

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