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Friday, February 12, 2010

Reading for Lent

Preparation for Lent, in a Hymnal
Year: 1050
Ink and pigments on vellum
The British Library, London

The British Library Catalogue says of this Hymnal:

"Believed to have been at Hartland Abbey, Devon, in the later middle ages, this hymnal's origins are unknown. It was made during the late Anglo-Saxon period (11th century) and has Old English words written above the Latin verses to translate or explain (glosses) as well as paraphrases of the hymns in Old English and Latin. It has at least three sections, each of which appears to have been copied from hymnals associated with different places (Winchester, Canterbury, plus special verses for monks--monastic canticles). Monks or nuns would have sung the hymns during their daily prayer services.


On the ninth Sunday before Easter (Septuagesima), Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns would have begun preparing themselves for the rigors of Lent. Their daily prayer services would shed all signs of rejoicing, and the expression of joy, 'Alleluia', would not be sung again until Easter. Sung at Septuagesima, this hymn represents the solemn farewell to joy. The refrain has Old English equivalents of the Latin words written between the lines in red."

The website Love the Church! has a good idea and resource. For Lent it has compiled Lenten Reading Plans

They consist of

1. Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan (read selections from several of the Church Fathers; each day during Lent, except Sundays and the Sacred Triduum)

2. Lives of the Great Saints Lenten Reading Plan (read the lives of the great saints – as related by Pope Benedict XVI – of the Medieval to Early Renaissance periods; each day during Lent, including Sundays and the Sacred Triduum)

3. Father Faber and Cardinal Newman Lenten Reading Plan (read daily selections from the writings of Fr. Faber on the virtue of kindness, and Cardinal Newman’s meditations on Christian hope and the Resurrection of Christ; each day including Sundays and the Sacred Triduum)

4. St. John Mary Vianney Lenten Reading Plan – in honour of the Year for Priests (read daily selections from the catecheses, exhortations, and sermon excerpts of the Patron Saint for parish priests; each day including Sundays and the Sacred Triduum)

It is a great resource provided by Fr Jerabek of Huntsville, Alabama. All the resources which are easy to access would normally take a great deal of time to access.

For instance you would only get the entire talks of Pope Benedict XVI on the subject of the Great Saints after using the Vatican website or if in a number of months they are reproduced altogether in book form.

The second with the talks by Pope Benedict XVI on the LIves of the Great Saints is my particular favourite. I have been following these talks on Church history with great interest. They are thoughtful, deep and rewarding. I have often posted extracts on this site.

Pope Benedict XVI is of course a great and experienced teacher and preacher. He does make what many would feel to be an extremely dull subject lively interesting and relevant. His comments about the parallels between life then and life now often illuminate much about the Pope and his thought.