Thursday, March 18, 2004

THURSDAY OF THE THIRD WEEK OF LENT


From "The Liturgical Year" of Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B.

THIS day brings us to the middle of Lent, and is called mid-Lent Thursday. It is the twentieth of the forty fasts imposed upon us, at this holy season, by the Church. The Greeks call the Wednesday of this week Mesonestios, that is, the mid-fast. They give this name to the entire week, which, in their liturgy, is the fourth of the seven that form their Lent. But the Wednesday is, with them, a solemn feast, and a day of rejoicing, whereby they animate themselves to courage during the rest of the season.

The Catholic nations of the west, though they do not look on this day as a feast, have always kept it with some degree of festivity and joy. The Church of Rome has countenanced the custom by her own observance of it; but, in order not to give a pretext to dissipation, which might interfere with the spirit of fasting, she postpones to the following Sunday the formal expression of this innocent joy, as we shall see further on. Yet, it is not against the spirit of the Church that this mid-day of Lent should be marked by some demonstration of gladness; for example, by sending invitations to friends, as our Catholic forefathers used to do; and serving up to table choicer and more abundant food than on other days of Lent, taking care, however, that the laws of the Church are strictly observed. But alas ! how many even of those calling themselves Catholics have been breaking, for the past twenty days, these laws of abstinence and fasting ! Whether the dispensations they trust to be lawfully or unlawfully obtained, the joy of mid-Lent Thursday scarcely seems made for them. To experience this joy, one must have earned and merited it, by penance, by privations, by bodily mortifications; which is just what so many, now-a-days, cannot think of doing. Let us pray for them, that God would enlighten them, and enable them to see what they are bound to do, consistently with the faith they profess.