Friday, September 29, 2006

No Frills Friday

Fridays, on which we commemorate the death of the Lord, have long been days for special works of penance. Recalling Christ's Passion and death on Good Friday, all Fridays have special significance in this regard, just as Sundays, even during Lent, are always celebrations of our Lord's Resurrection. In imitation of Jesus' self-denial and offering of himself, we are invited to enter into the Christ event by our own free choice. This is done by foregoing food, either by fasting or abstaining from meat, bearing humiliations- letting things go that we might otherwise contest, and forgiving those who injure us. It is also a good day to examine our consciences in preparation for Saturday confession. While these are all things we do, our actions are merely a way of cooperating with the grace imparted by the Holy Spirit, the agent of all spiritual transformation. It should be done with a spirit of quiet joy. "For Christians", the U.S. Bishops remind us in their pamphlet Penitential Practices for Today's Catholics, "suffering and joy are not incompatible".

Here is more from our Bishops on penitential practices on Friday:

"Fridays Throughout the Year - In memory of Christ's suffering and death, the Church prescribes making each Friday throughout the year a penitential day. All of us are urged to prepare appropriately for that weekly Easter that comes each Sunday".

Prepare today for Sunday. Do it quietly and with much prayer, pray Psalm 51, beginning with verses 3 and 4, in which we pray:

"Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense. Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me".

To deal with any neurosis that might arise as to Friday practices, perform your Friday penitential practices according to the liturgical day, sundown Thursday to sundown Friday. This is a small thing, but when one gets serious about living in a spiritual manner, it is amazing the little scruples that can disturb us.

I know it is already Friday morning. So, start now and go to sunset. Always remember, we earn nothing and that "it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil 2,13). We are merely trying, through our practices, to tune into God's frequency, clear some space for God to work, be more conscious of what God is already doing and conform ourselves, as disciples, to the Master, our Lord Jesus Christ.

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