Tag: Lent

sacred triduum

Holy week. It began last Sunday, Palm Sunday. When Jesus rode through the streets, praised as the Lord and Master. Heady times. While Christmas is a beloved holiday for Catholic Christians, the Roman Catholic liturgical year begins with Advent. But, it is in Holy week we begin to understand what Catholicism really means. Advent prepares us for the Christmas event, the coming of Christ on earth. But, Lent. Lent prepares us for what it means to have faith, to believe in a life after death. It is best explained in my favorite prayer. The Anima Christi, a prayer from the 14th Century, attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola. Fitting, right? Today, with a Jesuit Pope.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me, Body of Christ, save me, Blood of Christ, inebriate me, Water from the side of Christ, wash me, Passion of Christ, strengthen me. Awesome words, prayerful words. Words of hope and trust, faith! But it is in the second part that I find comfort. Oh good Jesus, hear me, within thy wounds hide me, suffer me not to be separated from thee. From the wicked enemy defend me, in the hour of my death call me, and bid me come to Thee, that I may praise Thee with Thy saints, forever and ever. Amen.    

Starting with Holy Thursday, we begin the journey. On Good Friday we mourn a sacrifice so great that it saves the world. When I was growing up it was Holy Saturday, where we understood what was to come, Resurrection, but it had not yet occurred. That happened gloriously, on Easter Sunday. Now we celebrate the Easter Vigil mass. We start with a new fire, bless and prepare the Paschal Candle that burns brightly throughout the Easter Season. We rejoice in Christ redeemed, for us.

Sacred indeed!


I like purple. I always have, it’s February’s birthstone, my birthstone. Amethyst, it’s a violet colored quartz. The Greeks named it μέθυστος methustos [okay, you can’t read that and neither can it] but it means intoxicated, meaning that the stone would protect the wearer from drunkenness.  No. I can tell you, doesn’t work. Now, later on, in the middle ages, soldiers wore amethyst believing had healing properties, keeping the wearer cool-headed. Well, yay! I like that one, but, no, I can tell you, doesn’t work. At one time amethyst was considered valuable, but in the latter part of the 1900’s large deposits were found and well, too much of a thing and the value drops. So now, amethyst is a semi-precious stone. Pooh! I still like purple.

Purple, on the color spectrum is a combination of red and blue. But, ha! you knew that if you were anywhere near the political spectrum these past six years. We’ve had lectures on the non-partisan meaning of purple. I almost lost my love for the color over that, I mean, take a perfectly good color, sure it’s not a primary, but to malign it is such a way as to make it political, well, upsetting to say the least. I still like purple.

Purple is still the color of royalty. It is closer to the red on the color wheel, violet being closer to the blue. Do you really care, though? It is the color of royalty because of tiny sea snail; spiny dye-murex. Who knew, right? So it was expensive. The Phoenicians found it and it was called, imperial purple. So how did it become the color of Lent, of penance, of piety. Well, from what I can tell, back in the middle ages, the Pope, one Paul II, moved the Cardinals to scarlet for their robes, that tiny sea snail apparently having given all and the imperial purple no longer available. The lower orders and the university professors, who robed much like the clergy, took to wearing purple, but a not so deep and royal a purple, more like indigo with a red dye, less expensive than the imperial dye.

In the last century, purple still stayed with the royals, but then it became, along with green and white, the colors of the woman’s suffrage movement, Jehovah Witnesses were required to wear a purple triangle by Nazi. It’s one of the colors for the New Orleans Mardi Gras, along with green and gold. Jimi Hendrix wrote the song Purple Haze about hallucinogenic drugs. In South Africa the protest against apartheid has been called the Purple Rain Protest.

Why did I think of this? Because purple is the vestment color for advent and lent. It is the vestment color the priest wears in confession. It is the symbol for penitence.

I still like purple.



Good and Evil

There is no more basic story concept than the battle between good and evil. There are some classic SciFi/Fantasy novels dealing with good vs evil. Probably the one that comes easiest to mind is Harry Potter, who took seven novels to defeat Lord Voldemort. And, as in most good stories, it is Harry’s constant temptation toward evil that makes for the primary conflict of the story. But there are others, Frodo and the Ring and Aslan the Lion to name but a few.

This is the first Monday in Lent. Last Wednesday we were reminded of ‘from dust we came and unto dust we shall return’. We’ve received the instructions, yet again, of Fasting and Abstinence. And, now, this week, we turn to the most difficult part of belief, withstanding temptation and staying true. The gospel for the first Sunday in Lent is Matthew 4:1-11, The Temptation of Jesus.

Temptation is one of those words that come fully packaged with negativity. We don’t really ever admit that being tempted is a good thing. Temptation is usually something that we succumb to and hope we live the next day, probably with regret. For Harry, the temptation was small like using magic for self maybe just once. For Frodo, letting the ring keep you alive a little bit longer. Meanwhile, the effort to withstand the temptation is huge. Thus, the conflict because the temptation never ever really look quite all that bad, which leaves us with a basic dilemma.