Kathleen, Thank you for this strikingly beautifully descriptive overview and specific explanation of the Lenten Season leading up to in my view the 2nd most precious miracle of faith, of to me the duel or joined miracles, the start on Christmas to the finish and all it represents; from God the Father in heaven being Easter; when His son Jesus arose from death in fulfillment of the Holy Scriptures to establish the New and Everlasting Covenant for all who follow Christ Jesus. Christmas being the great joy and Alleluia to the world, announcing the King being born to begin His journey here on earth in the flesh; in order to save God’s children from the sting of death that possesses this world of imperfection and sin, whereby He would end His journey here on the cross where He conquers all sin and thus begins the New and Everlasting Covenant of life eternal for us to claim as heirs in Paradise as the children of God; through His sacrifice by the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus.
Prominent to me is this description; “a remote preparation for Easter, serves as a time of transition for the soul, which must pass from Christmas joys to the stern penance of the sacred forty days.” This so poignantly and clearly points to Christ’s journey and mission of fulfillment that we should be totally humbled by, and determined to express our deepest humility from our immortal souls; to desire only to rise above this flesh life of vanity and loss, which is clearly pronounced in this following Scripture; “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2.
Then this most well defined description of how we should perceive our obedience during this Lenten season; “The liturgy Sexagesima emphasizes humility – not a self-conscious piety, not a superiority in one’s idea of holiness, but a realization that one is ultimately judged in the revealing light of absolute Truth, free of all justifications and rationalizations. It is this humility that becomes a strength in one’s battle to attain salvation.” This made possible, “Christ’s birth in our mortal flesh, is reserved to extol Him when born in His undying Body, i.e. when He rises from the tomb. “Born once of the Virgin, thou art now reborn from the sepulchre,” will then be the cry of the Church.”
And of course as you made so easy to understand by this, “Septuagesima Sunday as that on which “we lay aside the song of the Lord which is Alleluia.” “How,” said the people of Israel, “shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?”
This “strange land” is for the people of Christ, the world, which is a place of exile, while Alleluia, the chant St. John heard in heaven, will begin again in the liturgy at Paschaltide, which represents the future life. In the Easter festivities we shall hail our Lord, the conqueror of Satan, who while freeing us from the bondage of sin, will re-open to us the heavenly kingdom.”
I quoted these words to emphasize these words, because they illustrate so succinctly “the mystery and greatest of gifts” ever given to any human being, but, moreover beyond mere gift giving this is a “restoration and elevation” from this fallen state and carnal nature of material earthly life; to our “rightful place in the kingdom of God as His beloved children” brought back to Him by His only begotten Son our Lord, Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ; the Good Shepherd who journeyed through the darkness to find all of His lost sheep. Amen.
Lawrence Morra III
Post Script Amended Additional Commentary Provided by Original CP&S
kathleen says: February 10, 2021 at 18:39
Thank you so much Lawrence for your great insights in analyzing this post.
Referring to the Alleluia you quote: “How,” said the people of Israel, “shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?”
I also stopped and meditated a while on those words that come from the “Saint Andrew daily missal”.
And then you say: “ This “strange land” is for the people of Christ, the world…”
Yes, I agree. This world for faithful Christians is our exile, as we pray in the “Hail Holy Queen”, a strange land where there is much suffering, and any happiness is only fleeting, never fulfilling us as our hearts desire. We were made for Heaven and here below, “our hearts are restless until they rest in You, O Lord” – (Saint Augustine).
St Thérèse of Lisieux, another favourite saint of mine, often wrote and composed poems on the mystery of our sojourn in this “strange land”. But it is the place where we must “work out our salvation in fear and trembling” as we keep our eyes fixed on Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lent, for all its forty days of sacrifices and penance, is a wonderful time of preparation for the coming promises of Our Lord’s Resurrection if we are able to live it well. But frail creatures that we are, a little time like we are in right now to “man up” and put some plans in place, is very helpful. It is so sad the post Vatican Two destroyers did away with it… although apparently it was never formally abrogated.
Lawrence Morra says: February 10, 2021 at 23:52
You’re absolutely most welcome Kathleen, but, it is I who must be thankful to you for providing this opportunity to respond to something so beautiful and so assuredly of paramount importance to us all, which I read and found the words and especially the deep feeling stirring in my soul, as I again experienced in reading what you have said in such beautifully descriptive words from a place so special within you that only Jesus knows so well! As with me I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit spoke here, and I am just little old sinner Lawrence who is shedding some tears now as I try to remain focused on whatever it is I should say about this matter. Because if we can try our best to do as you so poignantly described in this very important article, being alert and obedient to the Father’s will; we can be vessels or conduits for the Holy Spirit to pour out and fill us with God’s Truth; so that we might be as helpful as possible while here making it a certainty not only being those that will hear when we face our Lord on judgment day; “well done my good and faithful servant,” but those who will as one of your favorite saints you mention here, “St Thérèse of Lisieux,” we will serve as instruments in this long arduous process of “Salvation” for the multitudes throughout the world who want to be saved, need to be saved and must be saved from eternal damnation or the otherwise complete separation from God Almighty forever; as that is a most assuredly horrid ending for any soul and we always should pray that only souls that absolutely belong in hell will be there!
Of course we of faith know that with God anything is possible; being the God of endless possibilities, we should have confidence and know in our heart of hearts that this is a “saving mission” that Jesus Christ initiated and “good will overcome evil, every evil;” while the light will always shine into the darkness bringing hope and the “Lord’s Salvation” to all those who deserve it; not one lamb will be lost from His herd, He being the Good Shepherd; knows all of His own and they know Him! No greater bond of love can I put this into context with than to say what’s been said countless times already of how Great the Love between Holy Mary, Jesus Christ her Son and His with the Father’s endless absolute love for her! So then, this is the love I speak of here, and, it all comes from Almighty God; who loves all of His children with this same absolute love!
You mentioned a piece of Scripture that is very powerful and appropriate, as I see it here vastly important that we know from a faithful servant of the Lord who was given a final opportunity to break free from the arduous but monumental task she was given; or to carry on to the end until God’s will would be done in that particular case! Again, I shed tears now thinking of this sacrifice and love for Jesus Christ by a mere person that came to mind immediately when you mentioned Philippians 2:12 “work out your own salvation with great fear and trembling” You know her name the one I’m speaking about known as Emily Rose in America, depicted in the film the “Exorcism of Emily Rose” who suffered what we can’t even imagine; by being attacked by several demons that possessed her unto death, so that her willingness to fulfill God the Father’s will, would ultimately serve the Great Purpose of “saving many souls from hell.”
Emily chose to allow her young unfulfilled life by earthly or worldly terms to be cut short, in order to serve God which is something all of us should strive harder to do! As you said, this is no easy task and easier said than done, because we tarry or falter in some of the simplest things let alone transformational spiritual matters between earth and God! So your words here are very to the point and the task at hand, “But frail creatures that we are, a little time like we are in right now to “man up” and put some plans in place, is very helpful.”
Her epitaph which she requested before her untimely suffering death is that Scripture “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12
Not fearing the things of this world is fine but fear of God is wise as it humbles us to make certain we know we aren’t worthy in the slightest and we are not home free until we are past the pearly gates, so there is no slacking or doing as we damn well please, then just when it’s time to face death we suddenly can say, hey I’m good I like Jesus and always did! As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8
We should as you mentioned see our sojourns as being that of exiles from our rightful home and that we should not desire to be a part of this world but to live our lives in accordance with the Almighty, until our road here comes to its end.
Are we worthy of praise for some of the things we have done for others or in the name of Jesus, surely some of us can rest assured of that, but we can also be certain that we carry sin and guilt that will not go away and we will not be free of until we are in heaven with God the Father, through and by the forgiveness of our transgressions only by Jesus Christ Himself, and that is why we need to be concerned to a great degree if we don’t call it outright fear, we are all in jeopardy and are in a most tumultuous world these days full of vanity and sin in so many basic things we participate in; which serve the beast or the prince of this world and not our heavenly Father. Can we judge ourselves, of course not, we are mere humans that die, but, the one who can is who we should fear because we don’t know whether we are truly worthy until He the Lord our God tells us so!
“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10
What we want to hear from our Lord when we stand before him is simply this: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:23.
Now to this point about fear! I believe everyone should have a healthy dose of fear as we are all fallen and our souls are a glimmer away from eternal damnation if not for the Lamb of God who took away sin on the cross at Calvary, for those who will abide in Him! But, I think some people get the idea it’s not hard at all Jesus did us all a favor and took care of all the dirty details of our transgressing nature, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” and our souls that have at least original sin to begin with; and I dare say most of us are nothing but dirty rags, without “Jesus and His salvation,” we’re not even worthy to be near Holy God Almighty let alone look at Him! No; I mention again as in Holy Scripture it tells us clearly:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12
Anna Elisabeth “Anneliese” Michel was a German woman who underwent 67 Catholic exorcism rites during the year before her death.
I want to leave you with some writing from a site I was drawn to immediately after writing everything you read up to the last Scripture quote, and where then upon checking for a few details about Anna Elisabeth “Anneliese” Michel; when the first reference site I opened, I saw how this article I was drawn to referred to your favorite saint; “In more recent centuries, saints like Therese of Lisieux offered her ‘little way’ of community contemplative life for the labours of overseas missionaries.” Yes, the Holy Spirit guides us Kathleen!
Lawrence Morra III
“The film suggests a respect for simple faith, the trusting unsophisticated faith of ordinary people that more educated critics look down on as superstitious or simplistic. This is the case with Emily Rose’s parents and their beliefs and trust in the priest. It is glib to disregard anything that is not understood as ‘medieval superstition’.
During the latter part of the 20th century, many have struggled with the questions of evil in the world and how this relates to traditional teachings and beliefs about the devil and evil spirits. The film highlights the reality of evil in our world, the power of evil as well as of the divine.
The answer to some of these questions that the screenplay offers harks back to previous centuries, especially to those women who experienced apparitions whether it be Anne Catherine Emmerich, Bernadette, the children of Fatima or more recent visionaries. Emily Rose is presented as one of these. She sees Mary and receives a message.
In 2004, a number of Catholics found the spirituality in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ too focused on Jesus’ sufferings and the implication of cruelty on the part of the Father and not enough on resurrection hope. A similar critique might be made here. Emily Rose is given the option of being freed from possession by exorcism or continuing to be possessed until her death in order to witness to the world that there is a supernatural world, that evil exists and invades the world but that the presence of God is stronger.
This spirituality of victimhood has a strong tradition. In more recent centuries, saints like Therese of Lisieux offered her ‘little way’ of community contemplative life for the labours of overseas missionaries. Saints like Gemma Galgani or St John Vianney had experiences similar to those of Emily Rose in combating the devil. The efficacy and relevance of this kind of spirituality will be continually argued. The film does not follow the path of some recent visionaries (and of some whose messages have been discredited) in being pessimistic about the world and uttering apocalyptic condemnations. The message here is that redemption is possible and that good will overcome evil.
The film raises the question as to the nature of holiness and who are saints. In the secularized Western world, people tend to be very skeptical about the possibility of saints. It is an unspoken assumption that saints should be ‘normal’. When the saint is less than perfect, especially if influenced by a psychological condition, their holiness is dismissed – except in literature where Dostoievski’s The Idiot and characters who resemble him can be extolled. Fr. Moore claims that Emily Rose is a saint. He tells her story in court, challenging the audience to consider whether they think she is a saint and that this is an example of sanctity. This is clearly a challenge to the theological stances of the audience and the nature of their own spirituality and piety.”
Film reference quotations courtesy of https://www.indcatholicnews.com/img/logo.png