“We are in a fight for our lives.” This was part of the message ancient converts received as they approached their reception into the Church. The sober tone and images of the traditional pre-Lent Sundays (Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and this Sunday Quinquagesima) compelled prospective catechumens to ask, “What am I getting into?” We are in a fight for our eternal lives against perennial enemies, the world, the flesh and the Devil. Christ is our Saviour and our King, our brother and our God. Unity in Him means freedom from sin and death in the perpetual chasm of agonised self-loathing.
We beg God to protect us from the dire consequences of sin, including the attacks of the Enemy, which on our own, without God’s help, we cannot resist.
What is the first thing an enemy does to you, once he has power over you? He disarms you. He shackles you. He renders you powerless to do your own will.
In our traditional Roman calendar, Sunday is Quinquagesima, Latin for the symbolic “50th” day before Easter. The priest’s vestments are purple. No Gloria. No Alleluia. Participants at Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form will hear the Introit refer to the “rock”: the Roman Station is at St Peter’s (Rock) on the Vatican Hill.
Our pre-Lenten prayers remind us to ready our interior fortresses and spiritual weapons before the purifying battle of Lent. Plan your Lent now, not on Ash Wednesday.
Collect: “Preces nostras, quaesumus, Domine, clementer exaudi: atque, a peccatorum vinculis absolutos, ab omni nos adversitate custodi.”
Latin vinculum is “that with which any thing is bound, a bond, fetter”. This bond can be literal and physical fetters, or it can be moral, a state. You can be bound in charity or peace, or bound in damnation or sin. Absolvo means “to loosen from, set free, untie” or in juridical language “to absolve from a charge, declare innocent”. The priest confessor wields absolvo when he liberates you from your sin-shackles.
Literal translation: “We beseech You, O Lord, graciously attend to our prayers; and, having been loosed from the fetters of sins, guard us from every adversity.”
We must strive to live without mortal sin. But we fall. In mortal sin we divest ourselves of our spiritual armour. We make ourselves prisoners of the Enemy. The Sacrament of Penance frees us from our self-inflicted chains and strengthens against future sins.
Go to Confession!