Saint Martin’s Lent 2014

Posted by on Nov 9, 2014 in Pope Michael, Sanctification | 1 comment

November 9th is the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome. This is actually a sad day for Us, because this is Our basilica as Bishop of Rome. For a thousand years from the end of the persecutions to the Protestant Revolt the Popes lives in the Lateran Palace with some notable exceptions in history. One of these is called in history the Babylonian Captivity, when for seventy years the Popes lived in Avignon in France rather at home in Rome. Today We live in exile in the New World, which has only been visited by one Pope prior to his election. Cardinal Pacelli visited prior to his election as Pope Pius XII in his function as Secretary of State of the Vatican City State.

“And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.” (Matthew 9:15) The Bridegroom is away and the Church is at the end of the worst crisis in history. And so we should fast and pray for an end to the Great Apostasy.

Saint Martin’s Lent

November 11th is the Feast of Saint Martin. This feast is about forty days before the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Martin’s Lent obtains its name from the custom of some Catholics to fast before Christmas just as we fast before Easter in Lent.

There are two types of fast. The first are those fasts, which oblige us under the Laws of the Church. And these are of several kinds. First there is the customary abstinence from meat on Fridays, which goes back to Apostolic times. The only exception is when a Holyday of Obligation falls on a Friday, such as All Saints Day or the Immaculate Conception. The second are the days of fast, which occur in Lent, on the Ember Days and several vigils throughout the year. The Ember Days and some vigils also come with partial abstinence and a few vigils require complete abstinence. When we fast and abstain on these days in obedience to the Church we combine the virtues of penance and obedience in a single act. The Church has prescribed a minimum of fasting, because if she didn’t some might not fast at all.

As sincere Catholics we should look at her laws in the areas of fasting and abstinence as minimums, which we should exceed on occasion. And thus sincere Catholics will observe voluntary fasts and/or penances on certain occasions as a form of penance and mortification. Saint Paul wrote: “But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” (I Corinthians 9:27) Voluntary penance is very useful for the soul. And so We would like to recommend that all consider some form of voluntary penance.

Some penance in Saint Martin’s Lent is one possibility. All should consider their own duties and select a penance accordingly.

Advent

On November 30th we begin the Ecclesiastical Year on the First Sunday of Advent. For many centuries Advent was a time of obligatory fasting similar to Lent as a preparation for Christmas. The law of fast for Advent has been dropped over a century ago, but Advent remains a time of penitential preparation for Christmas. We should observe it in such a manner. In fact, there is a lesson in this for us. In the United States the celebration of Christmas begins on the day after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas. After Christmas becomes a time of mourning, when it should be a time of celebration. This inverted way of living leads to many problems in people’s lives. By preparing by fasting, penance and prayer, when we arrive at the feast we are prepared to celebrate with the Church. Let us put off the Christmas decorations until after First Vespers on Christmas Eve and then leave them up throughout the Christmas season.

Fasting on Saturdays

Saint Alphonsus among others recommends the practice of fasting on Saturdays in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is another practice to consider, if duty will allow.

From The Glories of Mary

by Saint Alphonsus

Many servants of Mary, on Saturdays and the vigils of her feast, are accustomed to honor her by fasting on bread and water. It is well known that Saturday is a day dedicated by the holy Church to the honor of the Virgin, because on this day, says St. Bernard, she remained constant in the faith after the death of her Son.

For this reason the servants of Mary never fail on this day to offer her some special homage; and particularly the fast on bread and water, as St. Charles Borromeo, Cardinal Toledo, and so many others practised it. Rittard, Bishop of Bamberg, and Father Joseph Arriaga, of the Society of Jesus, did not even taste food on Saturday. The great graces which the mother of God afterwards bestowed upon those who practised this devotion, may be read in the writings of Father Auriemma. It is sufficient for us to mention the compassion which she showed to that bandit chief, who on account of this devotion, was permitted to remain alive, although his head had been cut off, and although he was under the displeasure of God, and was enabled to make his confession before dying. He afterwards declared that the holy virgin, for this fasting which he had offered her, had preserved him in life, and he then suddenly expired. It would not then be a very extraordinary thing, if any one, especially devoted to Mary, and particularly if he had already deserved hell, should offer to her this fast on Saturday. He who practises this devotion, I may say, will hardly be condemned; not that our Lady will deliver him by a miracle if he dies in mortal sin, as happened to the bandit; such prodigies of divine mercy seldom take place, and it would be madness to expect eternal salvation by them. But I do say that the divine mother will readily obtain perseverance and divine grace and a good death for him who will practise this devotion. All the brothers of our little congregation who can do so, fast on bread and water on Saturday, in honor of Mary. I say those who can do so, meaning, that if any one is prevented from doing so on account of ill health, at least on Saturday, he may content himself with one dish, make a common fast, or at least abstain from fruits or other agreeable food. It is necessary on Saturday to offer special devotions to our Lady, to receive communion, or, at least, hear mass, visit some image of the Virgin, wear hair-cloth, and the like. And at least on the vigils of the seven feasts of Mary, let her servants endeavor to offer this fasting on bread, or in any other manner they are able.

Seven Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary

These are:

      1. The Immaculate Conception, December 8th

      2. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8th

      3. The Presentation of Mary, November 21st

      4. The Annunciation, March 25th

      5. The Visitation, July 2nd

      6. The Purification, February 2nd

      7. The Assumption, August 15th

Conclusion

Speaking of some Devils, Jesus tells us: “But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20) And Saint Paul reminds us: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.) (Ephesians 6:12) Our fight is not against other people, but against The Enemy of our souls, the Devil. And so let us arm ourselves in this fight. Let us look at our lives and adopt some form of voluntary penance in addition to what is required by Church Law.

To demonstrate how the Church Law on fasting has eased over the last few centuries, We have reproduced an article from The Catholic Encyclopedia below. To recommend a bit more penance is not out of order. Some might ask why We do not instead amend the law and make it stronger. We know that these concessions came about, because of the weakness of people, a weakness that remains until today. Therefore We recommend voluntary additions to the minimums required by the Church by those who are able and in a manner that will preserve their health so they can discharge their duties to God, their fellow man and themselves.

The Black Fast

From The Catholic Encyclopedia

This form of fasting, the most rigorous in the history of church legislation, was marked by austerity regarding the quantity and quality of food permitted on fasting days as well as the time wherein such food might be legitimately taken.

In the first place more than one meal was strictly prohibited. At this meal flesh meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk were interdicted (Gregory I, Decretals IV, cap. vi; Trullan Synod, Canon 56). Besides these restrictions abstinence from wine, specially during Lent, was enjoined (Thomassin, Traité des jeûnes de l’Église, II, vii). Furthermore, during Holy Week the fare consisted of bread, salt, herbs, and water (Laymann, Theologia Moralis, Tr. VIII; De observatione jejuniorum, i). Finally, this meal was not allowed until sunset. St. Ambrose (De Elia et jejunio, sermo vii, in Psalm CXVIII), St. Chrysostom (Homil. iv in Genesim), St. Basil (Oratio i, De jejunio) furnish unequivocal testimony concerning the three characteristics of the black fast. The keynote of their teaching is sounded by St. Bernard (Sermo. iii, no. 1, De Quadragesima), when he says “hitherto we have fasted only until none” (3 p.m.) “whereas, now” (during Lent) “kings and princes, clergy and laity, rich and poor will fast until evening”. It is quite certain that the days of Lent (Muller, Theologia Moralis, II, Lib. II, Tr. ii, sect. 165, no. 11) as well as those preceding ordination were marked by the black fast. This regime continued until the tenth century when the custom of taking the only meal of the day at three o’clock was introduced (Thomassin, loc. cit.). In the fourteenth century the hour of taking this meal was changed to noon-day (Muller, loc. cit.). Shortly afterwards the practice of taking a collation in the evening began to gain ground (Thomassin, op. cit., II, xi). Finally, the custom of taking a crust of bread and some coffee in the morning was introduced in the early part of the nineteenth century. During the past fifty years, owing to ever changing circumstances of time and place, the Church has gradually relaxed the severity of penitential requirements, so that now little more than a vestige of former rigour obtains.

One Comment

  1. The word of the Pope! I praise God for assuring us, there will always be a One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. HH Michael has mentioned Martinmas Lent. It is worthy! Aside from this, there is Great Lent, before Easter, and then follows, in some Eastern or Oriental Catholic jurisdictions, the Lent of the Apostles, and the Lent of the Assumption of the Theotokos. In that way, the Year of Christ has four divisions. Fasting rules do not recapitulate as masochism, they are, rather, a means by which time is spared for edification and reproving from clergy and scripture. Money is saved for charity. By all means make certain that great effort is made to assist the marginalized. This is requested by St. Chrysostom for Lents.

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