Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Around the Year with the Trapp Family

In 1955, Maria Augusta Trapp—the real Maria who was portrayed in The Sound of Music—wrote a book celebrating the customs and seasons of the Catholic Church’s liturgical year. Such customs, she wrote, are “an expression of a deeply Catholic feeling, and they have grown out of times and from people who found it natural to carry over their beliefs into the forms of everyday life.”

Her aim in writing was to help “make Catholic home life more warm and expressive of our religion, and above all bring children and parents closer together.”

Here is some of what she wrote about the season of Lent. I will present more of this excellent book as we progress through the year.

Lent is primarily known as a time devoted to fast and abstinence. Our
non-Catholic friends feel sorry for us because we have to watch our food.
"Isn't it an awful strain?"

But this is only one side of the season of Lent, and not even the most
important one. First and foremost, these weeks between Ash Wednesday and
Holy Saturday are set aside as a time of preparation for the greatest
feast of the year, Easter.

We are not fasting in commemoration of Our Lord's fast of forty days, but
are imitating Him in his fast of preparation--preparation for His great
work of Redemption. It is the same with us. Once a year we take forty
days out of the three hundred and sixty-five, and we too fast in
preparation: in preparation for the commemoration of our Redemption.

We all should get together and work toward the restoration of the meaning
of Lent. People nowadays see in it just a gloomy time full of "must
nots." That is a great pity, because Lent is a solemn season rich in
hidden mysteries. We must also keep in mind that Lent is only a part of
the great Easter season, that it is for Easter what Advent was for
Christmas, and that Lent taken by itself would make no more sense than
Advent without Christmas at its end. Therefore, we should let Holy Mother
Church take us by the hand and lead us--not each soul alone, but the
whole family as a group--away from the noise of the world into a
forty-day retreat.

No other time of the year has been so singled out by the Church as this,
in that a completely different Mass is provided for every single day,
beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing through the octave day of
Easter; and again for the crowning feast of the Easter season, the eight
days of Pentecost. If we keep the closed time as faithfully as our
forefathers did--which means keeping away from all noisy outside
entertainment such as cocktail parties and dances--then we shall find
ample time for the imitation of Christ as it is outlined in every
morning's Mass.

The restoration of the season of Lent was begun in the year when the Holy
Father gave back to us the Easter Night. As we now know that in this
holiest of all nights we shall be permitted to be reborn in Christ,
renewing solemnly, with a lighted candle in our hands, our baptismal
vows, we understand more and more clearly the two great thoughts which
the Church is developing throughout the whole of Lent: the instruction of
the catechumens and the deepening of the contrition of the penitents.
Instruction and penance shall become our motto also for these holy weeks.

1 comment:

Christian said...

Sounds like a nifty book. MIght like it for my own library.