Tag Archives: lent

What is the Triduum and Why Should I Care?

Three days in a row at church?  Maybe it sounded miserable when you were six, but this year you’re much older and wiser.  More importantly, you have gotten to know the person of Jesus Christ.  And there is no better or more fitting way to commemorate Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection than participating in the Easter Triduum.

 

What is the Easter Triduum?

The word “Triduum” can mean any three-day period of prayer that typically precedes a feast day.  The Easter Triduum (or Paschal Triduum) is the three days of prayer that precede the celebration of Easter.  These three days see the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, a Good Friday service that recalls the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and finally, the three days culminate in the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection at the Easter Vigil, after nightfall on Holy Saturday but before dawn on Easter Sunday.

 

Holy Thursday (that’s today!)

Tonight we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (your parish probably has this mass tonight around 7pm).  At this mass, we commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus (as, of course, we do at every mass—but in a special way tonight).  We recall Jesus’ words to the twelve in Luke’s Gospel on the night he was handed over, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” We recall Christ’s washing of the apostles’ feet in the institution of the priesthood, and the institution of the Eucharist.  The mass will end with the procession of the Blessed Sacrament out of the church to a place of repose, where the faithful are typically able and encouraged to stay and pray for a period of time.  The altar in the church is then stripped and crosses are covered with a red or purple veil.  This is a perfect way to prepare for Good Friday.  Celebrate with Christ the Passover meal, and enter with him into the Garden to pray.

 

Good Friday

Good Friday is the day that we commemorate the passion and death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  This is the one day out of the entire year that the Catholic Church does not celebrate the mass.  Instead, there is a Good Friday service (usually takes place in the afternoon) that typically consists of the Liturgy of the Word, veneration of the Cross, and communion (the communion hosts received at this service were consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday).  This is a solemn day on which Catholics are obliged to fast.  Especially between the hours of 12 and 3pm, the faithful are called to meditate on the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

 

The Easter Vigil

The “mother of all holy vigils”, on this night, the Church keeps vigil for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is also at this mass that the Church welcomes its newest members through the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist).  You will not find a more joy-filled or a more glorious celebration on this earth than the Easter Vigil.  A lot more could be said, but words just won’t do it justice.  🙂

The goal of our worship, of our liturgy, as Catholics is communion with God.  Over these next three days during which we commemorate the good news of our faith as Christians, what better way to be united with God than to walk the steps of Jesus along with the Church?  To participate in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening, to enter with Christ into the Garden tonight, to walk with him on the road to Calvary tomorrow, to wait in haste on Saturday and keeping vigil into the night, ultimately celebrating his resurrection from the dead and victory over sin.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Ask Mary: Speed Dating Edition

Oh wait…is speed dating not what you mean by “dating fast”?  🙂

Question:

Hi Mary!

I was wondering if you could address dating fasts to grow in your
relationship with God and prepare for future relationships. I have a
few friends who are on them and recently God has put it on my heart to
go one, but there are not many resources out there that talk about
dating fasts. (when I googled it, it brought me to online dating
websites- not helpful lol).
Thanks, and I love your blog!

Answer: 

Thank you for this question!  It’s a good one, and I think it’s very relevant to a lot of young Catholics today.

To be completely honest, this whole idea of a “dating fast” has always sort of rubbed me the wrong way.  It could be that I don’t fully grasp the reason for these “fasts”—but then again, that may be precisely why this trend in dating (er—I mean, not dating) amongst young Catholics bothers me so much: I’m not sure that the majority of people embarking on these “fasts” fully understand what or why they are doing what they are doing in the first place.  Usually, the terms are not clearly defined.  What exactly is meant by, “dating” here?  And at what point are you “breaking the fast”?

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with not dating.  God most certainly wants to draw us to Himself, and often times dating makes it hard for us to let Him do that.  And if what you’re trying to avoid by beginning a “dating fast” is dating for sport, dating simply to pass the time, or dating to make yourself feel better about yourself, then absolutely.  God is calling all of us to be rid of that sort of dating—forever.

But often times, I don’t think a “dating fast” gets to the real heart of the problem.

Dating is not the same thing as eating, and I’m positive it shouldn’t be treated as such.  I find it somewhat odd to place spending time getting to know a fellow human being on the same level as eating a Double-Double at In-n-Out.  And I think that perhaps placing the two on the same level is what has led so many young people to feel they need to “fast” from dating in the first place.

Unfortunately, what most of us didn’t realize until it was too late is that dating is not supposed to be a given (whereas eating, is).  The purpose of dating is supposed to be marriage (as we learned after the first two or three breakups).  So it would make the most sense if you didn’t date at all until you were at least somewhat close to being ready to get married.  In actuality, most of us started dating in high school—or before!  You can see how, with this background, dating became exactly what we don’t want it to be: a game, something to pass the time, or simply something to make us feel better about ourselves.  So now we feel the need to “fast” from what, like that Double-Double (as good as it may have been), has failed to lead us to lasting happiness.

However, unlike that Double-Double, dating does have the potential to lead many of us to happiness, because dating often leads to our vocation! (for those of us called to marriage, of course)  Denying yourself the passing pleasure of a meal is an act of piety that can strengthen your prayer and devotion to God.  Denying yourself true happiness (i.e. your vocation)?  That’s not piety; it’s insanity.

So how do we solve the problem?  I think the answer is that we return to viewing dating how we should have from the beginning.  For many of us, that may mean we have to break bad habits, and thus some sort of a “break” (or “fast”) from dating may be in order, so that God can teach us how to do date as He intends for us to date (if He intends for us to date).

What we want to be careful we do not do is to treat dating as if it is something that unequivocally leads us away from God.  It’s true that it can do this if we are not using it for its rightful purpose, or if in our dating relationships we are acting contrary to God’s law—but this is not always the case.  In fact, if carried out to its rightful end, dating is meant to lead us ultimately to God, through the vocation of marriage.

That being said, in marriage, God calls us to a specific person—not the abstract idea of the vocation of marriage.  So if you haven’t met anyone yet, then of course you’re still discerning, and should use this time to grow closer to God.  I just personally do not feel that declaring an all-out fast is necessary when it comes to dating.  My thoughts: date when and who you feel God is calling you to date, and not a moment before, and you’ll be fine.  No “Catholic guilt” for having a good time at dinner with a good guy who treats you right just because you said you were “fasting” from dating.

That’s my two cents, anyway.  I’m sure there are many reasons to disagree.  Feel free to [charitably] leave them in the comment box.

Now, fasting from meals as an act of prayer every so often as a way to discern/prepare for your vocation?  I think that is a great idea! 🙂

Diving Into Lent

Lent is less than a week away!  Have you made your Lenten resolutions yet?

A while ago I bought into what I am now deeming not-so-good advice about Lent.  I can’t remember where it came from, all I know is that I somehow got into my head the idea that it was best to make one or two resolutions that you know you can really stick to as opposed to a bunch of life-altering changes that might result in miserable failure on day three.

Well, forget that.

This is a blog for young adults, and we’re not particularly well known for being overly cautious.  Why should that change when it comes to one of the few cases in which caution is actually NOT desirable—in growing in relationship with Jesus?

We’ve got six days, people.  Let’s ask Jesus what things in our lives are keeping us from loving Him as we ought to and—whether it’s a list of three or three hundred things—cut. them. out. 

Is sleeping-in keeping you from prayer?  Set seven alarms and sleep on the floor for Lent (it’s much harder to sleep in when what you’re sleeping on is uncomfortable).  Wasting time on Facebook?  Block it.  Deactivate.  Whatever it takes.  Also, fast.  Fast a lot.

A lot of people ask how giving up something like chocolate or soda can help your relationship with Jesus.  It’s simple, really.  We are supposed to love Jesus above all else; and as Christians, we want to love Jesus above all else.  So we practice.  We practice by refusing ourselves some lesser good—not because enjoying that lesser good is wrong, but because by refusing that lesser good, we are showing and increasing our love for He that is the greatest good.  If we don’t practice saying no to ourselves and to lesser goods, then our prayer becomes empty.  I can’t truly say that I love God more than anything if I’m unable to do something as simple as giving up dessert as an act of love for Him.

There’s a catch, though.  The thing about the advice I took a few years back was that it was safe.  If you’re just giving up chocolate for Lent, it’s not so difficult to just get into the habit of not having chocolate.  It’s a simple recipe for a “successful” Lent.

The non-cautious route to Lent isn’t safe.  And you may not be “successful” in the same way as you used to be on the safe route.  But Lent is all about renewing your total reliance on God, and sometimes we learn that best after falling a few times trying to do it on our own.  The sooner you learn that you will fail when you try to do it alone, the better.  The battle was never yours to begin with.

“Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works”

Heb 10:24

Combatting Everyday Addictions

Yesterday a lot of people around the world celebrated Ash Wednesday – the beginning of the 40-day period in the Catholic Church known as Lent.  This is the reason why some people you may know are giving up things like candy, or alcohol, or even television until Easter.  It’s not that these things are evil in themselves, but Catholics believe that choosing to deny yourself certain earthly attachments is a way to honor God and to teach ourselves discipline in learning how to control our passions and desires.

I say all of that as a way of getting to what I really wanted to talk about, which is the struggle of giving up something you are attached to.  Catholic or not, all of us, at some point or another, will be faced with having to give up something we have an unhealthy attachment to.

Take an extreme case of a drug addict.  This person may realize they have a problem, hit rock bottom and resolve absolutely to change for good.  This time, they think to themselves, I am really going to stop.  Nothing is worth this.  I will never use drugs again. That is great!  Unfortunately though, if no further steps are taken beyond the rock-bottom resolution, this person will likely have a 99.9% chance of using again.  This is the ugly face of addiction.

We may not have a substance abuse problem, but all of us have things that are not good for us that we are “addicted” to.  It could be a television show, the number of hours we spend on Facebook, certain foods, or even a relationship.  If we know something is bad for us and yet we can’t help but continue to do it anyway, then we have an addiction (no shame in admitting it.  It is the first step, after all 🙂 ).

We can make all the resolutions we want, but if that’s all we do, we’re going to be like the drug addict with an extremely high probability of failing.  Why?  Because it does a person no good simply to promise NOT to do something.  There is no action propelling us forward when we make a resolution not to do something; there is only blank space and unoccupied time.

The solution to a bad habit must be to replace it with a good one.  That way, we are promising to do something.  We are able to focus on action as opposed to inaction.  By occupying ourselves with things that build us up into better people, we are free to leave behind those addictions that destroy us.