January 21, 2008
vol 19, no. 21

Reflections for Monday in Septuagesima Week
by
Abbe Dom Prosper Gueranger

    Encompassing the Practice of the Liturgical Season of Septuagesima, the wise and holy abbot provides the nourishment necessary to properly prepare our bodies, minds and souls in concert with what is expected of the Mystical Body of Christ in preparation of the Lenten Season.

      Editor's Note: Because the Liturgical Season of Lent, which officially began on Septuagesima Sunday, we have decided to bring you excerpts (the excerpts below are taken from Volume 4, pages 1-14) from the most traditional and practical Catholic source available and that is the inspired and motivating words of the esteemed Abbot of Solesmes Dom Prosper Louis Pascal Gueranger, renowned for his masterful work The Liturgical Year, which is often considered the Summa for the Church's Liturgy in History, Mystery and Practice. It is in those areas that we feel it is important to address in order to help readers live as better Catholics in knowing, living, and applying their Faith to the fullest and giving to Christ and His Blessed Mother all that they can. Few capture the essence as this humble but brilliant abbot who is known simply as "the Gardener of the Canticles of Eternity."

    "The serpent said to the woman:'Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?'(1)- {Gen. iii. 1} Thus opened the conversation, which our mother Eve so rashly consents to hold with God's enemy. She ought to refuse all intercourse with Satan; she does not; and thereby she imperils the salvation of the whole human race.

    Let us recall minding the events that have happened up this fatal hour. God, in His omnipotence hand love, has created two beings, upon whom He has lavished all the riches of His goodness. He has destined them for immortality; and this undying life is to have everything that can make it perfectly happy. The whole of nature is made subject to them. A countless posterity is to come from them, and love them with all the tenderness of grateful children. Nay, this God of goodness who has created them, deigns to be on terms of intimacy with them; and such is their simple innocence, that this adorable condescension does not seem strange to them. But there is something far beyond all this. He, whom they have hitherto known by favors of an inferior order, prepares for them a happiness which surpasses all they could picture with every effort of thought. They must first go through a trial; and if faithful, they will receive the great gift as a recompense they have merited. And this is the gift: God will give them to know Him in Himself, make them partakers of His own glory, and make their happiness infinite and eternal. Yes this is what God has done, and is preparing to do for these two beings, who but a while ago were nothing.

    In return for all these gratuitous and magnificent gifts, God asks of them but one thing: that they acknowledge His dominion over them. Nothing, surely, can be sweeter to them than to make such a return; nothing could be more just. All they are, and all they have, and all the lovely creation around them, has been produced out of nothing by the lavish munificence of this God; they must, then, live for Him, faithful, loving, and grateful. He asks them to give Him one only proof o this fidelity, love, and gratitude: He bids them not to eat of the fruit of one single tree. The only return He asks for all the favors He has bestowed upon them, is the observance of this easy commandment. His sovereign justice will be satisfied by this act of obedience. They ought to accept such terms with hearty readiness, and comply with them with a holy pride, as being not only the tie which will unite them with their God, but the sole means in their power of paying Him what He asks of them.

    But there comes another voice, the voice of a creature, and it speaks to the woman: 'Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree?' And Eve dares, and has the heart, to listen to him that asks why her divine Benefactor has put a command upon her! She can bear to hear the justice of God's will called in question! Instead of protesting against the sacrilegious words, she tamely answers them! Here God is blasphemed, and she is not indignant! How dearly we shall have to pay for this ungrateful indifference, this indiscretion! 'And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.'(1)-{Gen. iii. 2,8.} Thus Eve not only listens to the serpent's question, she answers him; she converses with the wicked spirit that tempts her. She exposes herself to danger; her fidelity to her Maker is compromised. True, the words she uses show that she has not forgotten His command; but they imply a certain hesitation, which savors of pride and ingratitude.

    The spirit of evil finds that he has excited, in this heat, a love of independence; and that, if he can but persuade her that she will not suffer from her disobedience, she is his victim. He, therefore, further addresses her with these blasphemous and lying words: 'No, you shall not die the death; for God knoweth that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.'(1)-{Gen. iii. 4, 5.} What he proposes to Eve is open rebellion. He has enkindled within her that perfidious love of self which is man's worst evil, And which, if it be indulged, breaks the tie between him and his Creator. Thus the blessings God has bestowed, the obligation of gratitude, personal interest, all are to be disregarded and forgotten. Ungrateful man would become a god; he would imitate the rebel angels: he shall fall as they did.



    January 21, 2008
    vol 19, no. 21
    LIVING IN TRADITION