Today most traditional Catholics begin the observance of the four yearly fasts, Quatuor Tempora, that are intended to consecrate, to make holy, the four seasons of the year. Fasting and abstinence, like all mortifications exercised by traditional Catholics, are things increasingly alien in our modern world, steeped as it is in entitlement and indulgence. However, in this time of year, when post-Christian society is indulging in the secularized version of Christmas, it is particularly counter-cultural.
This secular world marred by effeminacy, indulgence and godlessness, is at this moment struggling to understand yet another manifestation of the unrestrained violence that has emerged from its rejection of faith. Yet another young man has acted upon the world's logic built on the premise of no God and no eternal consequence. We traditionalists are particularly struck by one of the psalms from this day's matins, that speaks so directly to our world, which no longer listens to the hard sayings of the Scriptures. Too often modern people, who live every day of their lives as though there were no God, who satiate their bodies and minds with one hedonistic pleasure after another, who fail to render the sacrifice of praise in even a few words directed toward God, in times of trouble and calamity turn to passages of the Scriptures which comfort them, but utterly ignore those harder words that stand convicting them, giving them an answer as to why they suffer (Ps 49. 16-22):
But to the sinner God hath said: Why dost thou declare my justices, and take my covenant in thy mouth?
Seeing thou hast hated discipline: and hast cast my words behind thee.
If thou didst see a thief thou didst run with him: and with adulterers thou hast been a partaker.
Thy mouth hath abounded with evil, and thy tongue framed deceits.
Sitting thou didst speak against thy brother, and didst lay a scandal against thy mother's son: these things hast thou done, and I was silent.
Thou thoughtest unjustly that I should be like to thee: but I will reprove thee, and set before thy face.
Understand these things, you that forget God; lest he snatch you away, and there be none to deliver you.
A reader reminded me last night of the prayer of the angel at Fatima, and that prayer is particularly poignant for our Ember days’ meditation in this Advent season, wherein an indulgent world has manifested again the folly of its ways:
My God I believe I adore I trust and I love Thee. I beg pardon for those who do not believe do not adore do not trust and do not love Thee.
The angel said this three times with head to the ground. As we fast and abstain, what a great prayer to offer, in reparation, in penance. If the world is to ever wake-up from the lethargy of luxury and hedonism and godlessness, it will be by the expression of God’s people who have separated themselves from that bitter worldliness and who have the courage to do penance and make reparation. Observing these Ember days of Advent with zeal has great significance now more than ever.