Diadems of the Decade from March 16, 2004, vol 15, no. 76
Every day I am more thankful that the true Faith into which I was born and baptized has been restored to me. Does it require more from us than the new religion of the Novus Ordo? Oh yes! Is it more demanding and rigorous than the easy New Order? Absolutely! During Lent the differences between the Novus Ordo and true Catholicism become glaringly apparent. The new church requires fasting only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence from meat only on the Fridays of Lent. It is no wonder that the prayers of the Novus Ordo mass on Ash Wednesday go out of the way to avoid mentioning fasting……….it's a non-issue. (see the article Disciplines of Lent: Ash Wednesday in the "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi" ).
When I was still within the clutches of the Novus Ordo, I happened upon various writings by the Saints wherein they spoke of the great value of fasting and alluded to the time of the great fast, etc. St. Thomas Aquinas in his "Meditations for Lent," gives a fair amount of space to the consideration of fasting. This was perplexing to me since it made no sense to make such a big deal about fasting when the Church only requires 2 days of fasting during the entire year. It would be another 2-3 years before I stumbled upon the reality that the church of the New Order had changed and rearranged the entire ancient tradition of fasting. It was, for me, a stunning discovery and piqued my interest to find out what else had been taken from me since Vatican II. What other treasures which had been held dear to the Saints generating piety and other virtues were swept away and hidden under the rug?
As I understand more of the actual history of the tradition of the Church and its undeniable relation to the vitality and strength of our spirituality, it is becoming more apparent that the Novus Ordo is a lingering cadaver. It is not a matter of "nostalgia" and some beautiful prayers that is drawing Catholics back to the true traditions and practices of the Church, even though this is the favored excuse given by prelates even to the highest office. The fact is that the life embodied within traditional Catholicism begets a living spirituality among the people. This, more than anything else is the pulse, the heartbeat, infused by the Holy Ghost, which has given organic, real, tangible life to the Church for centuries. Despite every reason for "modernizing" the Church, for "updating" the convents, or for changing the Mass, there can be no doubt any longer that within the church of the New Order the living Catholic spirituality of the people has been virtually snuffed out. Those who retain a deep, true and Catholic spirituality within the N.O. do so at their own peril without the support of their "fellow" Catholics, and are generally considered religious fanatics. It is virtually impossible to remain in the N.O. and not be affected by at least some of its novel entrapments that pander to human weaknesses and feed the hunger of the ego.
As I have pointed out in previous columns, considering the multitude of detailed reasons for this lifelessness in the N.O., there is little doubt that modern Catholics have been seduced into forgetting and ignoring their past in just about every area. The Chair of Peter has been abandoned in favor of the Chair of John XXIII which is nothing less than an avowed pursuit of novelty and a cunningly seductive break with Catholic tradition and doctrine, hailing Vatican II as the beginning of new revelation for modern man. It was from this line of reasoning that there came to be a New Lent.
For those who have spent most of their lives within the Novus Ordo establishment, Lent according to the traditional practices of the Church can be very difficult. Sleepy, unchallenged Catholics in today's world aren't accustomed to having their tummies empty for the better part of the day or to severely limiting their intake of meat for 40 days. They are entirely unfamiliar with rules forbidding snacks between meals and the consumption of only one full meal per day. Discovering the real rules of the Church pertaining to fasting is what makes Lent make sense! That growling stomach with its hunger pains throughout the day keeps one physically aware of penance. The constant turning away from snacks between meals, refusing to over-eat, and seeking a simpler menu for 40 days is a daily "in your face" kind of reminder that Lent is about denying ourselves in order to curb our appetite for sin. There is nothing within the Lent of the Novus Ordo that even comes close, in my experience. This is one of many reasons why the New Order religion is dangerous to one's health.
A recent advertisement from a Novus Ordo parish characterizes the mindset of the New Religion regarding the New Lent:
LENTEN FISH FRY
ALL YOU CAN EAT!
$8.00 per person
Somehow the words ALL YOU CAN EAT and LENT just don't go together. That is, of course, unless we think of Lent as a mere inconvenience when we must not eat meat on Fridays…..what a bother. In that case, stuff yourselves with fish!
An excellent icebreaker and "pep-talk" for Lent is Dr. Thomas Drolesky's wonderful article "From dust unto dust" This expert PhD. writer leaves the reader speechless in light of the "no-fat, no-carb, no substance" Lenten practices of the New Order from which many of us have emerged. Even a seasoned Traditional Catholic will benefit from Dr. Drolesky's insight.
St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church says we fast for three reasons, which I quote from his Meditations for Lent, translated by Father Philip Hughes, reprinted by Roman Catholic Books:
1. To check the desires of the flesh. So St. Paul says in fastings, in chastity (2 Cor: 5), meaning that fasting is a safeguard for chastity. As St. Jerome says, "Without Ceres, and Bacchus, Venus would freeze," as much as to say that lust loses its heat through sparseness of food and drink.
2. That the mind may more freely raise itself to contemplation of the heights. We read in the book of Daniel that it was after a fast of three weeks that he received the revelation from God (Dan. 10: 2-4)
3. To make satisfaction for sin. This is the reason given by the prophet Joel, Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning (Joel 2: 12). And here is what St. Augustine writes on the matter. "Fasting purifies the soul. It lifts up the mind, and it brings the body into subjection to the spirit. It makes the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of desire, puts out the flames of lust and enkindles the true light of chastity."
Continuing with his meditation, St. Thomas tells us:
There is commandment laid on us to fast. For fasting helps to destroy sin, and to raise the mind to thoughts of the spiritual world. Each man is then bound, by the natural law of the matter, to fast just as much as is necessary to help him in these matters. Which is to say that fasting in general is a matter of natural law. To determine, however, when we shall fast and how, according to what suits and is of use to the Catholic body, is a matter of positive law. To state the positive law is the business of the bishops, and what is thus stated by them is called ecclesiastical fasting, in contradistinction with the natural fasting previously mentioned.
Despite the meritorious reasons for fasting mentioned by St. Thomas Aquinas, we may determine that the bishops of the New Order place little or no value upon fasting whatsoever. We are faced with the dilemma, once again, regarding what is actually "suitable and of use to the Catholic body," and what has simply been extracted from the practices of Catholicism to make it palatable to a modern, pleasure seeking, techno-crazed world. If, as we have read above, that Sts. Paul, Aquinas, Augustine and Jerome are correct in their views that fasting is a great help in mastering chastity, among other things, one can only question the wisdom of dispensing with fasting in a day when bald-faced immorality rears its head more viciously every minute. The effects of this widespread sexual carnage are literally forced upon mankind in an unprecedented manner, clogging up the airwaves and slithering through every possible communications technology available to man on a worldwide basis. We have seen for ourselves that the disease ridden monster has infected the New Order church in the horrible epidemic of homosexual sins perpetrated by priests. How can the Novus Ordo "look itself in the mirror" when by the fruits of Vatican II a very effective means of help for priests (and everyone else) to "enkindle the true light of chastity" was blithely tossed overboard? This is a betrayal of staggering proportions.
It is with confidence that we turn to the traditional practices of the Church which have been "good enough" for centuries' worth of saints and holy men and women. In order to give our spiritual survival the best chance, we turn our faces not toward Vatican II, but toward the time-honored traditions and doctrines of the Church where we find real sustenance and a loving, caring hand leading us towards greater union with Christ. Traditional Catholics aren't fasting this Lent in order to aggravate members of the Novus Ordo religion, but because up until the 1960's, there was no dispute that Holy Mother the Church gave her children only what was good, right and helpful to salvation. The New Order would have us believe that by allowing those at the helm to cut out our eyes, we will be able to see more clearly.
Without malice towards those good-hearted, but blinded souls who remain cemented within the "commerce" of the Novus Ordo establishment, it is a fact that the New Lent is a dud. It is my prayer that many will be inspired to take up the traditional Lenten fast as a primer in the school of understanding how much has been lost by Catholics in the recent history of the Catholic Church. It's time to go forth into the season of a true Lent, listening to St. Thomas Aquinas:
"Go forth, shake off the disturbing commerce of this world so that, with minds set free, you may be able to contemplate him whom you love."
DIADEMS OF THE DECADE
Catharine Lamb's SHEARS AND OF A LAMB from March 16, 2005, Volume 15, no. 76