What People Are Asking
Advice on Lent Penances & Sacrifices
After thinking about a number of present day moral issues that plague the world and our Church, I wonder if you could give some direction about possible penances and/or sacrifices a person could do to help remit for the terrible immoral sins of our day.
This seems particularly timely in light of the fact that Lent will soon be upon us, when many of us will be taking very seriously this time of reparation and preparation.
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We believe that the value of penances and sacrifices relies on what is more difficult for one to do. So if one is particularly turned toward gluttony, he should avoid some of the foods he enjoys more, or better, he should fast often. However, if he has a tendency to be a Calvinist, to tell him to fast would only increase his defect. Perhaps a good penance for him would be have a good meal daily during Lent to teach him to be less bitter and revolted against the good things of Creation.
If a man is a super-active and loquacious, for him the best penance would be to do set aside his activities for a day, be silent and take up the custom of listening to Gregorian chant. If he is lazy, however, this same penance would only feed his vice; to make reparation for his sins this man should do something strenuous, such as walk on a long pilgrimage and be in charge of cooking the food and washing the dishes for all the pilgrims.
Thus, penances and sacrifices rely on the capital vice that each one of us has. Whatever is opposed to our vice will be better received by God as a manifestation that we want to correct those vices.
Based on this ascetical principle of agere contra - one must act against his defects - we ask: What, generally speaking, are the vices most Americans have and, therefore, what would be efficient penances to counter them?
We point out three main defects that you will probably not find in the sentimental type of pious books: laziness of thinking; vulgarity of language, sloppiness in dress. We will say a word about each one and indicate a sacrifice/penance that might be offered to correct such vices and please Our Lord during Lent and Holy Week.
Laziness of thinking
Like many other modern peoples, we Americans acquired the vice of effectively renouncing our capacity to think and judge the reality before our eyes. If we read the newspapers we do not seek the objective facts to make our own evaluation, but we immediately look for the conclusions of this or that journalist to follow him without thinking.
This is even more common when it comes to radio or television commentators. People rush straight to the conclusions offered them, without concern for the objectivity of the facts reported. It is normal to hear people saying: “This morning X said this and that in his radio program.” Or “I read this in today’s Y Report,” and they keep repeating the commentator’s or talk show host’s conclusions all day. Then they listen to the program the next day and do the same.
Doing this, we are abdicating our condition of rational beings who must analyze and judge for ourselves. We are becoming more and more like parrots and apes.
So, our suggestion for penances and sacrifices is to make an effort to cut this bad habit and start to analyze and judge for ourselves. Our Lord, who created us rational beings in His image and likeness, will be pleased with this effort to use our rationality and discernment according to the mind of the Church, instead of passively assimilating conclusions without understanding/analyzing the facts that led to them.
Vulgarity of language
One of the best reflections of our dignity is the language we use. The Revolution does not lose one opportunity to vilify the language in order to foster egalitarianism and abolish ceremony.
Frequently Catholics and even Traditionalist Catholics who pretend to be Counter-Revolutionaries, adopt the latest fashions of language - spoken or written - to show that they are following the winds of modernity. We believe this is wrong. It is not so different from burning incense to the idols.
Some examples follow:
These examples show only one tendency to destroy the language through lazy contractions. Other fields of the language such as the exiguity of the modern man’s vocabulary, the abolition of verb forms such as the subjunctive mode and the future perfect tense, which enable more precise and nuanced expression could also be included as a part of the general vulgarization of the English language.
- The correct form is: “I am going to go to the store today”; its first degeneration is “I’m going a go to the store;” the second: “I’m gonna go to the store”; third: “I’m gonnago to da store.”
- To the polite question: How are you doing? The correct answer is: “I am doing well, thank you. How are you doing?” Its first degeneration: “I’m well, thanks”; the second: “I’m good, thanks”; the third: “I’m good”; the fourth: “Cool.”
- Also the pronoun you or we has been corrupted in the new texted-language that is taking over the whole American language. The simple phrase “You are my best friend,” becomes in its first degeneration: “You’re my best friend”; the second: “You’r my best friend”; and ends by being: “U’r my bes frend.”
- The phrase “We have been travelling this month,” analogously becomes in its first corruption: “We’ve been travelling…” and ends by being: “Weeve ben…”.
So, if you want to offer reparation to the Word Incarnate for the great crisis in Catholic civilization, one thing you can do is to make an effort to polish your language, avoid all vulgarities and speak in the best way you can as if you were in His presence.
Sloppiness in dressing
It is our observation that the common clothing in the United States is a way of dress that reflects the ideals of Communism. We do not see a more wide-spread egalitarian clothing - even in Russia, China or Cuba - than the T-shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes that have been adopted by almost everyone - young and old - in our country. This American “official uniform” has seen some evolutions, such as the addition of a baseball cap and, recently, the gradual replacement of blue jeans with long Bermudas
Other combinations, likewise censurable, are commonly chosen to please our taste for egalitarianism, comfort or extravagance; recently macabre outfits and sinister colors also have been adopted by a certain public.
So, if you want to offer reparation to the One who created everything perfectly ordered, following wise rules and presenting itself magnificently, you might adopt a code of dress that is in accordance with Catholic Civilization and keep to it assiduously at least during Lent and Holy Week.
These are three suggestions of penances and sacrifices that we offer you. They counter the common vices that we American have and, therefore, certainly will be accepted by Our Lord, Our Lady, the Angels and Saints like a smoke that rises from an exquisite incense.
TIA correspondence desk
Posted February 14, 2012
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The Value of Distinction
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St. Isidore of Seville on the Importance of Being Dignified
Four Ways to Discern a Man's Soul by His Appearance
Do Wear Dignified Clothing even on Casual Occasions
Language Is the Dress of Thought
How a People Fulfills its Vocation
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