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Lent: March 2nd

Monday of the First Week of Lent

Other Commemorations: Bl. Charles the Good, martyr (RM); St. Simplicius, pope (RM)

MASS READINGS

March 02, 2009 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

God our Savior, bring us back to you and fill our minds with your wisdom. May we be enriched by our observance of Lent. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Lent should be seen not only as a season in preparation for the Passover of Our Lord Jesus, but also as a time and a path of grace, as we make our way, amidst temptation and struggle with sin, towards the encounter with the glory of the Risen Lord, as a river flows towards its sea. The river, not yet sea, will one day become the sea.

The Lord asks us to follow him at all times, but especially when the cross is heavy. We cannot receive everything without emptying ourselves of self: “He called the people and his disciples to him and said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mk 8, 34-35). — Mgr Luciano Alimandi

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas. Their feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on March 7.

Stational Church


The Value of Fasting
Is fasting really worthwhile? Whenever I consider the value of a religious practice, I always look into the earthly life of our Savior. He is our model. He dwelt with us in order to teach us how to form our lives inwardly and outwardly. Christ Himself fasted often and accorded it high praise in His teaching. Recall how He fasted forty days before entering upon His work of teaching. At the beginning of Lent the Church wishes to stamp this fact deep in our hearts: our fasting must be in union with and in imitation of Christ's.

I call to mind the mystery-laden, pregnant words spoken by our Savior when the disciples, unable to cure a possessed boy, asked, "Why could we not cast him out?," and Jesus answered, "This kind can be driven out in no way except by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29). This reply has always made the deepest impression on me. Prayer and fasting are extraordinary means (we may call them violent means) when other simpler ways are of no avail against the powers of hell.

Now another saying of Jesus comes to mind. When John's disciples began to reproach Him, "Why do Your disciples not fast?," He replied: "Can you make the wedding guests fast as long as the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; in those days they will fast" (Luke 5:35). There is a hidden depth of meaning in these words. The coming of Christ among men was a wedding feast. Fasting had no place. But it is most proper to fast when the divine Bridegroom is taken away. Fasting on Fridays and during Holy Week, then, is in accord with Christ's own wishes.

I should like to cite one further passage from the Gospel, one which casts light on fasting from another direction. Once our Savior compared Himself with the Baptist in these words, "John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a devil!' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold a glutton and a wine drinker.'" John was a man devoted to penance, an ascetic, who fasted throughout his life. Not so Christ. His way of living was not based exclusively upon self-denial and mortification, but upon an ordered enjoyment of life. So we learn from the Savior that fasting should be the exception, not the rule, in Christian morality.

To complete the lesson let us consider for a moment the passage in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus speaks of the three important pious exercises of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. He highly recommends all three, but warns against practicing these virtues in a pharisaical manner.

The main points in Jesus' doctrine on fasting, then, are:

  1. Fasting is an extremely important means of resisting the inroads of hell (hence Lent).

  2. Fasting should be practiced as a memorial of Christ's death (Friday, Holy Week).

  3. Fast days occur by way of exception in Christian life, they are not the normal practice.

  4. Fasting holds a place alongside prayer and almsgiving as a pious exercise.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.


The Station today is at St. Peter in Chains. The church was one of the tituli, Rome's first parish churches, known as the Titulus Eudoxiae or the Eudoxiana. It was built over the ruins of an Imperial villa in 442 (or possibly 439), to house the chains that had bound St. Peter in prison in Jerusalem.


Blessed Charles the Good
Count Charles of Flanders, was called "the good" by the people of his kingdom. They named him for what they found him to truly be. He was the son of St. Canute, king of Denmark. Charles was just five years old when his father was murdered in 1086. When Charles grew up, he married a good young woman named Margaret. Charles was a mild and fair ruler. The people trusted him and his laws. He tried to be an example of what he expected the people to be.

Some nobles accused Charles of unjustly favoring the poor over the rich. He answered kindly, "It is because I am so aware of the needs of the poor and the pride of the rich." The poor of his realm were fed daily at his castles.

Charles ordered the abundant planting of crops so that the people would have plenty to eat at reasonable prices. Some wealthy men tried to hoard grain to sell at very high prices. Charles the Good found out and forced them to sell immediately and at fair prices. An influential father and his sons had been reprimanded by Charles for their violent tactics. They joined the little group of enemies who now wanted to kill him.

The count walked every morning barefoot to Mass and arrived early at the Church of St. Donatian. He did this in a spirit of penance. He longed to deepen his own spiritual life with God. His enemies knew that he walked to church and also that he prayed often alone before Mass. Many people who loved Charles feared for his life. They warned him that his walks to St. Donatian could lead to his death. He replied, "We are always in the middle of dangers, but we belong to God." One morning, as he prayed alone before the statue of Mary, his attackers killed him. Charles was martyred in 1127.

—Excerpted from Holy Spirit Interactive


St. Simplicius
Saint Simplicius was the ornament of the Roman clergy under Sts. Leo and Hilarius, and succeeded the latter in the pontificate in 468. He was raised by God to corn fort and support his Church amidst the greatest storms. All the provinces of the Western Empire, out of Italy, were fallen into the hands of barbarians.

The emperors for many years were rather shadows of power than sovereigns, and, in the eighth year of the pontificate of Simplicius, Rome itself fell a prey to foreigners. Italy, by oppressions and the ravages of barbarians, was left almost a desert without inhabitants; and the imperial armies consisted chiefly of barbarians, hired under the name of auxiliaries. These soon saw that their masters were in their power. The Heruli demanded one-third of the lands of Italy, and upon refusal chose for their leader Odoacer, one of the lowest extraction, but a resolute and intrepid man, who was proclaimed king of Rome in 476. He put to death Orestes, who was regent of the empire for his son Augustulus, whom the senate had advanced to the imperial throne. Odoacer spared the life of Augustulus, appointed him a salary of six thousand pounds of gold, and permitted him to live at full liberty near Naples.

Pope Simplicius was wholly taken up in comforting and relieving the afflicted, and in sowing the seeds of the Catholic faith among the barbarians.

The East gave his zeal no less employment and concern. Peter Cnapheus, a violent Eutychian, was made by the heretics Patriarch of Antioch; and Peter Mengus, one of the most profligate men, that of Alexandria. Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, received the sentence of St. Simplicius against Cnapheus, but supported Mongus against him and the Catholic Church, and was a notorious changeling, double-dealer, and artful hypocrite, who often made religion serve his own private ends. St. Simplicius at length discovered his artifices and redoubled his zeal to maintain the holy faith, which he saw betrayed on every side, whilst the patriarchal sees of Alexandria and Antioch were occupied by furious wolves, and there was not one Catholic king in the whole world. The emperor measured everything by his passions and human views.

St. Simplicius, having sat fifteen years, eleven months, and six days, went to receive the reward of his labors in 483. He was buried in St. Peter's on the 2d of March.

--Excerpted from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

Things to Do:

  • Learn more about Pope Simplicius here.

  • The Monophysite heresy maintained that Jesus Christ’s nature remains altogether divine and not human even though he has taken on an earthly and human body with its cycle of birth, life, and death. Monophysitism asserted that the person of Jesus Christ has only one, divine nature rather than the two natures, divine and human, that were established at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Read a comprehensive essay on Monophysites and Monophysitism at New Advent.

Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent, Station with Santa Balbina (St. Balbina):
St. Balbina was a virgin and martyr (130) and the daughter of the tribune and martyr, St. Quirinus. The church is one of the oldest churches in Rome, and was probably built in the 4th century above the house of the consul Lucius Fabius Cilone. The first reference to it is found in a 6th century document, where it is referred to as Sanctae Balbinae. It was consecrated by Pope St. Gregory the Great.