Monday, January 30, 2006


The “Mass of the Ages,” follows the Church Calendar in use before the Church’s liturgical reform of 1970. The Christmas Cycle celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation. In the old calendar, however, the Easter Cycle celebrated the mystery of the Redemption with the seasons of Lent, Eastertide, and the “After Pentecost Season.”

Unlike the new calendar, there are three Sundays, which introduce the Season of Lent. They are: Septuagesima Sunday, meaning seventy days before Easter, Sexagesima Sunday, sixty days, and Quinquagesima Sunday, fifty days before Easter. Numerically, it doesn’t compute; it is not meant to. The purpose is to gradually introduce Christ’s Faithful to the holy season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

In the Introit of today’s Mass, the Church calls upon the Lord to deliver us for we are surrounded by dangers. “The sorrows of death. The Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer.”

In the Collect, we plead for God to hear us in His gracious mercy. We acknowledge that we are “justly afflicted for our sins.” It is the Church’s cry for mercy, forgiveness. Filled with sorrow, we are in dire need of the Redemptive Act of Christ!

Then we begin the Liturgy of the Word, as it is now called. The Apostle Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, compares our life in this world to an arena. If we wish to obtain the final victory, we must fight and mortify ourselves constantly. Paul exhorts us to: “Run the good race! Fight the good fight!” Look at the athletes of this world who train and mortify their bodies for the corruptible prizes of money and fame. The Apostle reminds us that these fortunes, which are sought fervently by the world, will fade completely.

Saint Paul also tells us that he chastises his body in order to bring it sunder subjection: “Lest, having preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” As disciples of the Lord, like Paul, we too must seek the incorruptible prize, which is eternal glory in heaven.

Today’s Gospel parable of the vineyard instructs us that all of us must work to obtain the reward of eternal life. Heaven is not automatic. Our labor must be fortified by the graces we receive at Mass, the Sacraments, and Catholic devotions.

Having been refreshed and strengthened by the Body and Blood of the Lord, we again pray for mercy in the Communion Prayer: “Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant, and save me in your mercy; let me not be confounded, O Lord, for I have called upon you.”

Notice how the Church’s liturgy prepares us for the holy seasons of Lent and Easter. Actually, it is a preparation for Calvary, for the Redemption. We begin by acknowledging our sinfulness as we pled for mercy and forgiveness. No place for psychological excuses here! We have sinned and our need for divine mercy is absolute.

The Mass ends with the Post Communion Prayer: “May Thy faithful people, O God, be strengthened by Thy gifts; that in receiving them, they may seek after them the more, and in seeking them, may receive them forever.”

When we follow the Mass by reflecting on the prayers and readings, we came to understand our need for the, “full and active participation” of the faithful.

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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