Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
For the sake of convenience, the world has forsaken the Jewish Calendar, which is based on the movement of the moon round the earth, in favor of the Roman Calendar, based on the movement of the earth round the sun. Now the normal procedure of the Church is to arrange her festival days according to the accepted Roman Calendar. By way of exception, however, the Church retains the Jewish Calendar for the celebration of Christ's death and resurrection. Since the movement of the moon round the earth does not keep proportionate time with that of the earth round the sun, Easter necessarily becomes variable in relation to the Roman Calendar. Easter Sunday is always the Sunday after the first full moon to occur after March 21st. It can fall on any day between March 22nd and April 25th. The reason why the Church has retained the Jewish method in the case of the death and resurrection of Christ is chiefly based upon the religious significance of these events. The paschal lamb of the Old Law, celebrating the liberation of the Jews from captivity in Egypt by the slaying of a lamb to preserve them from the slaughter of the children of the Egyptians, was but a type or figure of Christ, the true Lamb of God. By His death and resurrection we are liberated from the captivity of Satan. In order to bring out the identity between the figurative paschal lamb of the Old Law, and the true Lamb of God in the New, the Church insists that Easter be celebrated at that very time when the Jews used to celebrate the passover. In other festivals the Church follows the Roman, or rather, the Gregorian Calendar, which is a modification of the Roman Calendar.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, ushering in the forty days of fasting and penance prior to the celebration of Easter and the Resurrection of Christ.
Because on that day the Catholic priest blesses some powdered ashes, and signs the foreheads of the people with them as they come to the Altar Rails. As he marks them with the ashes, he says over each, "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return." Gen. III., 19. The ashes remind us of the shortness of life, enkindle serious thoughts of eternity, and are a symbol of repentance.
The special celebration of the Wednesday which introduces the forty days before Easter Sunday can be traced back some 1600 years. In the fourth century it is certain from documentary evidence that the early Christians used to regard it as a special day of penance, though it was not the custom then to make use of ashes. The additional ceremony of sprinkling ashes upon the heads of the people originated most probably in the seventh century, at the time of Pope Gregory the Great.
A strong protest against things offensive to Christ would be a little more intelligible. But a protest against an effort to honor Christ from a body of professing Christians is an enigma. The authority of Scripture for the fact that our Lord died for us on Good Friday is more than enough warrant for our regarding the day as one demanding special reverence. Would the Free Presbyterians quarrel with the recognition of their own birthdays as having an importance not belonging to other days? And do they, or do they not, believe that the death of their Savior has meant more to them than their birth into a state from which they needed redemption?Or again, is Christmas Day, the very birthday of Christ, sacred to the Free Presbyterians? Yet they have no more, and no less, Scriptural warrant for its observance.
This bears out what I have always said—that Holy Scripture alone cannot be the supreme guide in faith and morals intended by Christ. All Protestants accept this rule—yet it leads one group to protest against the desecration of Good Friday, and it leads another group to protest against that very protest. It is an insult to the wisdom of Christ to suggest that He made no better provision than this for the guidance of men. However, in reality, He established the Catholic Church, and sent it to teach all nations. That Church does so, and all Catholics at least know where they stand. Outside the Catholic Church it is chaos, and dreary protests against each other's very protests.
Christ's death on the Cross was not fictitious. All that it has meant to us is not fictitious. That the death of Christ occurred on Good Friday is not fictitious. I scarcely think the Free Presbyterians knew precisely what they themselves meant when they used that word. And a few questions suggest themselves. Will these Protestant Ministers protest carefully against the attributing of a fictitious sanctity to Christmas Day, when its observance draws near once more? And do they think they will block the desecration of the Sabbath day by asking people not even to recall all that Christ did for them on Good Friday? It is a weird idea to propose that, since Christ is not honored as He should be on Sundays, we must see to it that He is not honored as He should be on Good Friday.But I have said enough. The Catholic Church at least remains loyal to all that our Lord's death has meant to those who love Him. Every Friday throughout the year she calls upon Catholics to give up the pleasure of taking meat on the day Christ gave up His very life for them. She prepares for the annual commemoration of the death of Jesus on Good Friday by the forty days of Lenten observance, and devotes the whole of Holy Week to recollection, prayer, and fitting religious services. If people want fidelity to the memory of Christ they will find it nowhere as they will find it in the Catholic Church.
The Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated yearly. The words "Corpus Christi" mean the "Body of Christ." And the Feast of Corpus Christi is a yearly celebration of the great privilege possessed by Catholics in the Holy Eucharist which contains the very Body of Christ. We celebrate this religious festival each year just as we celebrate the Feast of Christmas in honor of Christ's birth in Bethlehem. It is a great thing for us that Christ should be born, and certainly deserving of an annual commemoration. So also, it is a great thing that we should have our Lord in the Eucharist. And that, too, we celebrate annually by the Feast of Corpus Christi. Shortly before the Reformation came along, when all England was Catholic, one of the colleges at Oxford University was established, and named "Corpus Christi College." It still retains that name, though many do not advert to its significance.