Lenten Sermon for March 10, 2019
I am about to preach to you concerning the holiest and greatest of fasts. And how can I more fitly begin than with these words of the Apostle, in whom Christ himself spake, which have just been read? Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation! There is never any day or time which is not rich with divine gifts; and always God’s mercy is made available to us by his grace. Yet that is a reason why at the time of this great fast the hearts of all men should be moved to more earnest pursuit of things spiritual, and stirred up to complete trust in God. For now is drawing near the anniversary of the Day of our Redemption, which doth summon us to perform every duty of devotion, to the end that we may be able to celebrate, with clean bodies and souls, those mysteries which exceed all others, to wit, those of the Lord’s Passion.
Mysteries so great demand a perseverance in devotion, and an abiding reverence, that so what we attain to be on the Feast of Easter, we may ever afterwards in God’s sight continue to be. But few have the strength to do this, for the flesh in its weakness rebelleth against such hardness, and the business of this life doth distract us with many cares, whereby the hearts even of the godly are often smudged with the grime of this world. To the end that our souls may be restored to us in purity, there hath been provided for us, by a most wholesome custom in the following of Christ’s example, the discipline of these forty days, wherein by godly works we may redeem the time which we have mis-spent, and by holy fasting may cleanse us of our faults.
Wherefore, dearly beloved, as we are now about to enter upon these days of mystic meaning, instituted for the purifying of our souls and bodies, let us walk according to the apostolic precept, and cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. If we do thus, then the war between our two natures will turn to the advantage of the soul, which under God’s governance hath by rights the dominion over the body. Thus giving no offence in anything, our ministry will not be blamed by such as would spitefully reproach us. For if our conduct during this fast be not congruous with the appearance of a complete temperance, the reproaches of the unbelievers will be just, and our sins will arm the tongues of the ungodly to the hurt of our religion. For fasting consisteth not in abstinence from food only. It is useless to hold back food from the body, if the soul be not held back from sin.
(From Pope Saint Gregory the Great)
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.Thanks be to God.
R. The fast of Lent openeth for us the gates of paradise; let us enter therein with prayer and supplication: * That in the Day of the Resurrection we may rejoice with the Lord.
V. In all things let us approve ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience.
R. That in the Day of the Resurrection we may rejoice with the Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. That in the Day of the Resurrection we may rejoice with the Lord
Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever! Amen!
May Our Lady guard you against all evil and guide you to Jesus Christ Savior!
Fr. Stephen, o.f.m.