11 The Deep Lenten Divide - Fr Kenneth Mendes

posted Feb 16, 2018, 12:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 16, 2018, 12:49 AM ]
The Second Vatican Council brought about changes in the Liturgy and other aspects of social and moral life. Here we are concerned only about the observance of Lent and the renewal of the ancient practices of Holy Week.

Pre-Vatican seniors, sixty years and above, remember the rigorous rules of fasting, abstinence and diverse penitential practices. When you looked around the church, on the Altar, one noticed the absence of flowers, purple hangings all over the church. When you came to your home table and experienced the menu, you knew that Lent had begun. Yes there was a deep divide, a big moat between 'Fat Sunday's' meats and Lenten lentils.

The New Rite, according to Vatican II, throws the ball in your court. You have to choose between Daily Mass, Stations of the Cross, 15 minutes of meditation, fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence on Fridays of Lent. Abstinence from meat remains, but Fasting means one full meal a day and how much you need to sustain you mentally and physically at (1) Breakfast and (2) Supper. No food between meals; however, tea, coffee and aerated waters permitted. This is now the discipline required in the barracks of the soldier of Christ. The para-Liturgical Lenten exercises, like the Way of the Cross, have also been delegated to the lay people to conduct.

The Holy Week for pre-Vaticaners kept you in church for long hours in the morning and evening, with a modicum of food to add to the discipline of life led in the barracks of the soldiers of Christ. The New Order of Holy Week has services only in the evening and night. But because of pastoral and civic reasons, services do not go beyond 10 p.m. The spin-off of these regulations permit schools and colleges to have examinations on Maundy Thursday. Confessions, Choir and altar boys' rehearsals cannot take place easily with no academic holidays. Office-goers and other workers coming home tired have to come for long services in the evening. The ceremonies are prayerful and full of significance with good music mixed in them, but the congregation just doesn't have the mental stamina for the protracted services.