Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lenten Dividends


All the preparations of Lent, when they are employed toward the end of contemplation of holy things, as well as of the abiding need we have for them, pay rich dividends when Easter finally arrives. When you fast, your body tells you throughout the season that you are in need. And when on Easter you feast, your body's satisfaction tells you that your Lord has gained for you all that you need as well: "I shall not want." When toward the end you veil the images, turn down the lights, and turn off the organ, you descend with the mind into the depths of Christ's Passion, as that great Good Friday hymn puts it, stanza two: "O sorrow dread, our God is dead" (literally, "Gott Selbst ist Tod"), the drama of rising from the gloom during the Great Vigil is all the more gripping: the veils are gone, the organ plays, the bells are rung, the organ plays, and we sing Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

Everyone gets to celebrate Easter, it is true. The resurrection of our Lord is for everyone, even the most callous Protestants who haven't even been to church during Holy Week, to say nothing of fasting. As Leo the Great put it in his Easter sermon, which I'm paraphrasing from memory here: "Come all! Come sinners and saints, ye that have fasted and ye that are full; ye that have been diligent and ye that have been slothful; let everyone feast this day." So it is true that none of the great traditional Lenten preparations make better Christians out of anyone, or give anyone a greater claim on Christ. But, I am convinced, those who have better prepared for Easter will simply find greater joy in celebrating. A happy and joyous Easter Feast to all.

4 comments:

Rev. Benjamin Mayes said...

Your comments on fasting are right. Fasting puts you in mind of your frailty and your utter dependence on the daily bread that comes from God's hand. In connection with Lent and especially the sacred Triduum, it helps to direct not just the mind, but also the body toward the worship of the Living Bread from Heaven, Christ our risen Lord. A blessed Easter to you as well!

Pastor Beisel said...

Unfortunately, not everyone can be as disciplined as you, Pr. Mayes. And, thankfully, not everyone can be as slothful and undisciplined as me. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Happy Easter. :)

Latif Haki Gaba said...

One thought, Fr. Fritz. Your comments on fasting, and the role it can play in preparing one for the Easter feast, seem to apply just as well to the weekly (up to daily in some places) celebration of Our Lord's resurrection. In other words, the year round eucharistic fast can serve the same end, by which the Panem de caeli is our first and most important meal of the day. LHG

Father Eckardt said...

Right. It's hard enough to contend with reason's insistence that all the Sacrament is is bread, without having our sense of taste still contending with the latest meal still caught in our teeth. Pre-sacramental fasting, even if for only an hour, helps make the senses behave while we approach this peculiar and extraordinary Feast.