Monday, February 13, 2006


The “Mass of the Ages,” follows the Church Calendar, which was in use before the liturgical reform of 1970. Then, as now, the Christmas Cycle celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation.

Unlike the new calendar, there are three Sundays that 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 was 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 cries out to God to save us. “Exsurge!” “Arise!” The Church cries out to God, figuratively, yet emphatically, asking God to rise from His sleep. “Why sleepest Thou, O Lord? Arise and cast us not off to the end. Why turnest Thou Thy face away, and forgettest our troubles?”

We are in dire need of Gods love and His mercy. Forget us not, Lord, is our prayer. No! God never forsakes us. It is we who forsake Him. Thus, the Church, recognizing our total dependence on God, again begs for mercy and forgiveness for our sins.

In the Collect or Opening Prayer of the Mass, the Church does something a little unusual in the Liturgy. We pray for the protection of one of the Apostles, Saint Paul. “Mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversities.”

Our struggle in the world is daily and endless. As in every era, the combat is a mighty one in our days. In January, we reflected upon the dreadfully evil Roe vs. Wade decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. This was evidently one of the most iniquitous acts in the history of man. Resulting from it, millions upon millions of unborn have been slaughtered.

Yet, we saw the ferocity with which some members of the Senate and their supporters are willing to exhibit in their opposition to anyone or anything that would overturn this evil. They engage in marches, demonstrations, and cries of indignation over the abolition of the alleged, “Woman’s rights of privacy.” Millions of Catholics sit by idly, not saying a word.

Pornography and immodest dress now have become commonplace. Even the House of God is not immune from this immoral attire. Many Catholics, scantily dressed, stubbornly approach the altar to receive the Bread of Life.

These are just a few examples of the egregious departure from the Gospel of Christ that we are witnessing in our days. Today’s liturgy reminds us that we must resist this mentality. In the Epistle, Saint Paul recounts the sufferings that he endured for the sake of the Gospel. He is in prison more often than not! Beaten with whips, stoned, thrice shipwrecked, a day and a night in the sea, in peril of robbers, in peril from the Gentiles and false brethren, in hunger and thirst in fasting and in nakedness, as the list of horrors goes on. Yet, the Apostle endured all of this and more for the love of Jesus Christ and His Church.

How then are we to react to temptation? Are we to give in at the first moment of trial? Do we join the crowd around the water cooler in their immodest speech? Do we deny that we even know the Lord? In the light of Saint Paul’s sufferings, how trivial is our small list of trials. The liturgy is asking us to stand up for our faith. Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, gives us the example.

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


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