Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes
In these times of persecution of individual liberties (and the Catholic Church specifically) by the world/Amerycan government, I think that this is the “perfect” time to bring back a tradition that was never really done away with: penitential Fridays.
During my time in the convent, we did not eat meat on Fridays and I thought that was all well and good (it’s the time-honored tradition of the Church after all) but there are other ways of doing penance. Meatless Fridays are a good way of mortifying the flesh and tempering the will. However, what if you are a vegetarian? What if you don’t eat red meat or whatever? Then you would have to find other ways of offering penance. Maybe not drinking soda. Maybe abstaining from something one particularly enjoys doing. Lent is coming up, may as well start now!
However, regardless of how one practices penance, it should not be done away with. There is a redemptive aspect to penance because it is through our penitential acts (genuine, of course) that we partake in the sufferings of Christ.
One of the “deforms of the Spyryt of Vatycyn II” was that we don’t have to do those things like penances anymore. That they are antiquated and backwards. Yes, I was actually told that once. What is more sad is that there are persons in the Church who actually profess this codswallop. What a crock! Talk about the smoke of Satan entering the sanctuary.
If anything, the Council and those things genuinely arising therefrom reaffirmed the role of penance in the life of the Church as a whole and Catholics individually. I mean, the 1960s were pretty crazy. Now, daaaaaaaang … we’re in crazier times.
Penance in all its many forms is not easy. They can be painful in one way or another but they strengthen the soul and the Church. Think of it in the classic image of gold being tried in the crucible. What good is a gold cross if the gold has not been perfected and its flaws? All of us have been given crosses, we are called to embrace them and carry them squarely on our shoulders. By our partaking in the sufferings of Christ by means of our penances, the gold of our soul is perfected and we are more perfectly united to Christ on His Cross and in His glory! Temporary suffering yields eternal reward.
I have heard of a movement in the Church of people appealing to their bishops to bring back to the forefront of Catholic devotional life the tradition of penitential Friday. The Church has always promoted penitential Fridays and all the grace arising therefrom, it has only been in recent times when the faithful have come to the erroneous understanding that the Church got rid of the practice of penance.
What more apropos time than now when the Church is being persecuted so openly by the American government and the world in general? What more apropos time than now when the fundamental right to life is under such grievous attack on all sides? What more apropos time than when there are persons and movements in the very Church herself who are undermining the Truth of the very deposit of Faith and causing such grave scandal for so many souls? How many souls have been lost because of all of this utterly horrible destruction!?
Our Lady calls us to penance! We should listen to our dear Mother! If we ever think our suffering is so great, we need only look to Our Lady not just at the foot of the Cross but throughout the Life of her Divine Son but most especially there on Calvary. Her very Immaculate Heart of pierced with the sword of a suffering that only she experienced. She who is Immaculate Virgin Mother of the Word Incarnate witnessing and experiencing the persecution, suffering, and death of her Son! How very profound her suffering! How very hard the Evil One must have been trying to get her to lose faith and hope in and love for God because of her suffering and the suffering of her Son!
And yet she perservered and now she is the Queen of Heaven and Earth and the Mother of us all! How very wonderful a mother have we in she who is human and perfect! How very wonderful a model of penance do we have in her!
If you want to know how you are being called to penance, ask Mary, she will tell you. She will tell you a way that will best lead you to her Son! What better way could there be?!
Why don’t we help one another? Why don’t we share our penances (without the hubris of showing off because then the penance is not genuine) with others so that we can unite all of our personal penances and sufferings with those of Christ and His Sorrowful Mother?!
Let us offer penance in whatever form it manifests itself! Let us embrace our crosses as gifts of grace and love from Christ!
Have a blessed day!