Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The real meaning of Lent

During this season, the Church is called to renew our discipleship. Jesus gives the three hallmarks of discipleship: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. For centuries these have been the traditional disciplines of Lent.
At the Church of St. Anselm, we will light three large Altar-Candles to remind us of the three parts of our Lenten discipline.
Together, we remember the words of St. Peter Chrysologous:
There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm,
devotion remains constant, and virtue endures.
They are prayer, fasting, and mercy.
Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives.
Prayer, mercy and fasting: thess three are one, and they give life to each other.
Fasting is the sould of prayer,
mercy is the lifeblood of fasting.
Let no one try to separate them;
they cannot be separated.
If you have only one of them or not all together,
you have nothing.
So if you pray, fast;
if you fast, show mercy;
if you want your petitions to be heard,
hear the petitions of others.
If you do not close your ear to others you open God's ear to yourself.
When you fast, see the fasting of others.
If you want God to know that you are hungry,
know that another is hungry.
If you hope for mercy, show mercy.
If you lookd for kindness, show kindness.
If you want to receive, give.
If you ask for yourself what you deny to others,
what you're asking for is a mockery.
Let this be the pattern for all when they practice mercy:
show mercy to others in the same way,
with the same generosity,
with the same promptness,
as you want others to show mercy to you.
Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting
be one single plea to God on our behalf,
one speech in our defense,
a threefold united prayer in our favor.

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