Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Because Gregory the Great Wrote Such a Poem for Lent
But the Catholic Church celebrated it first. And as a famous general once proclaimed, sometimes “getting there firstest with the mostest” makes all the difference. When questioned about the lack of fasting among His disciples, Our Lord claimed (and I paraphrase) that there would be no fasting while the Bridegroom was around, but after He was gone? Then there would be fasting.
For the longest time, virtually my whole life, I never got around to it. Those days are gone, for me anyway. The following scripture verse from the Old Testament helps illuminate the Lenten Season for me,
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness. (Joel 2:12)
St. Gregory the Great, a Doctor of the Church, does a knock-out job of describing Lent to me as well. Over at New Advent, I found this citation about Gregory the Great that says he,
I'll take their word for it (on authority) because I haven’t had the opportunity to read much that he has written. Not yet anyway. But I did find this poem that is attributed to him. To get the season of Lent started right, I think St. Gregory the Great knocks the cover off the ball. Take a look:
The Glory of These Forty Days
The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by Whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.
Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God Who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.
So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
Delivered from the lions’ might;
And John, the Bridegroom’s friend, became
The herald of Messiah’s Name.
Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
Full oft in fast and prayer with Thee;
Our spirits strengthen with Thy grace,
And give us joy to see Thy face.
O Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
To thee be every prayer addressed,
Who art in threefold Name adored,
From age to age, the only Lord.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Thank you, St. Gregory!