Friday, February 19, 2021

Friday after Ash Wednesday

It's nice to be reminded that Ash Wednesday through the Saturday that follows is kind of a Lenten warm-up. Sunday, of course, is the First Sunday of Lent and the week that begins with Sunday is the First Week of Lent. Many people who make Lent yet another time for self-improvement, seeing it as a kind of New Year's do-over, have already flamed out. If so, good! Now maybe you can begin Lent, which is not a time for self-improvement.

My practice over the past several years is to do what the Church bids me to over Lent: fast on Ash Wednesday and abstain from meat on Fridays. Today, I had fish n' chips, which were delicious and seemed a little indulgent!

I usually try to fast a few more times during Lent and then, as the Church bids me, on Good Friday. But then, I try to incorporate fasting into my life outside of Lent, as well as Friday abstinence. Except for Sundays, on which I pray the Glorious Mysteries, and the solemnities of the Annunciation & Saint Joseph, on which I pray the Joyful mysteries, I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries during Lent. My custom is to recite the Act of Contrition before the 5 Our Fathers when praying the Sorrowful Mysteries.

This year, at least over the first few weeks of Lent, I am reading some books on mental health: J.P. Moreland's Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace and Sara Griffth Lund's Blessed Union: Breaking the Silence About Mental Health in Marriage. I am reading both books first and foremost for my own benefit and secondly to aid me in my pastoral ministry. I may give a brief update on something I find useful from these books.

As always, I am doing other reading as well. Specifically, I am finishing Francis Spufford's novel Golden Hill and working my, again, through James P. Mackey's magisterial and fascinating Christianity and Creation: The Essence of the Christian Faith and Its Future among Religions When I finish Golden Hill, I plan to read Eric Idle's memoir Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography.

It seems fitting on this Friday after Ash Wednesday to select as our traditio a choral setting of Psalm 51- known by the first phrase of its Latin translation found in the Vulgate: Miserere Mei Deus, or even simply as the Miserere.

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