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of that period to enforce the one we have mentioned, seeing that it had been sanctioned by the Canons, and approved of by the Fathers of the Church. These admirable Christian traditions have long since fallen into disuse in the countries of Europe; but they are still kept up among the Turks, who, during the forty days of their Ramadan, forbid all law proceedings. What a humiliation for us Christians!
Hunting, too, was for many ages considered as forbidden during Lent ;-the spirit of the holy season was too sacred to admit such exciting and noisy sport. The Pope, Saint Nicholas the First, in the 9th century, forbade it the Bulgarians,2 who had been recently converted to the Christian Faith. Even so late as the 13th Century, we find St. Raymond of Pegnafort teaching, that they who, during Lent, take part in the chase, if it be accompanied by certain circumstances, which he specifies, cannot be excused from sin. This prohibition has long since been a dead letter; but St. Charles Borromeo, in one of his Synods, re-established it in his province of Milan.
But, we cannot be surprised that Hunting should be forbidden during Lent, when we remember, that, in those Christian times, War itself, which is sometimes so necessary for the welfare of a nation, was suspended during this holy Season. In the 4th century, we have the Emperor Constantine the Great enacting, that no military exercises should be allowed on Sundays and Fridays, out of respect to our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered and rose again on these two days, as also in order not to disturb the peace and repose needed for the due celebration of such sublime mysteries. The discipline of the Latin Church, in the 9th century, enforced every where the
1 Labbe, Concil., tom. vii. and ix.
2 Ad Consultat. Bulgarorum. Labbe, Concil., tom. viii.
suspension of war, during the whole of Lent, except in cases of necessity. The instructions of Pope St. Nicholas the First to the Bulgarians recommend the same observance ;2 and we learn, from a letter of St. Gregory the Seventh to Desiderius, Abbot of Monte Cassino, that it was kept up in the 11th century. We have an instance of its being practised in our own country, in the 12th century, when, as William of Malmsbury relates, the Empress Matilda, Countess of Anjou, and daughter of King Henry, was contesting the right of succession to the throne against Stephen, Count of Boulogne. The two armies were in sight of each other; but an armistice was demanded and observed, for it was the Lent of 1143.4
Our readers have heard, no doubt, of the admirable institution, called God's Truce, whereby the Church, in the 11th century, succeeded in preventing much bloodshed. It was a law that forbade the carrying arms from Wednesday evening till Monday morning, throughout the year. It was sanctioned by the authority of Popes and Councils, and enforced by all Christian Princes. It was a continuing, during four days of each week of the year, the Lenten discipline of the suspension of war. Our saintly King, Edward the Confessor, gave a still greater extension to it, by passing a law, (which was confirmed by his successor, William the Conqueror,) that God's Truce should be observed, without cessation, from the beginning of Advent to the Octave of Easter, from the Ascension to the Whitsuntide Octave; on all the ember days; on the Vigils of all Feasts; and, lastly, every week, from None on Wednesday till Monday morning, which had been already prescribed.5
In the Council of Clermont, held in 1095, Pope Urban the Second, after drawing up the regulations
for the Crusade, used his authority in extending the God's Truce, as it was then observed during Lent. His decree, which was renewed in the Council held the following year at Rouen, was to this effect: that all war proceedings should be suspended from Ash Wednesday to the Monday after the Octave of Pentecost, and on all Vigils and Feasts of the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles, over and above what was already regulated for each week, that is, from Wednesday evening to Monday morning.1
Thus did the world testify its respect for the holy observances of Lent, and borrow some of its wisest institutions from the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year. The influence of this Forty-Days' penance was great, too, on each individual. It renewed man's energies, gave him fresh vigour in battling with his animal instincts, and, by the restraint it put upon sensuality, ennobled the soul. Yes, there was restraint every where; and the present discipline of the Church, which forbids the Solemnisation of Marriage, during Lent, reminds Christians of that holy continency, which, for many ages, was observed during the whole Forty Days as a precept, and of which the most sacred of the liturgical books-the Missal-still retains the recommendation.2
It is with reluctance that we close our history of Lent, and leave untouched so many other interesting details. For instance, what treasures we could have laid open to our readers from the Lenten usages of the Eastern Churches, which have retained so much of the primitive discipline! We cannot, however, resist devoting our last page to the following particulars.
We mentioned in the preceding Volume, that the Sunday we call Septuagesima, is called, by the Greeks, Prophōne, because the opening of Lent is proclaimed
1 Orderic Vital. Hist. Eccles., 2 Missale Romanum. Missa lib. ix. pro sponso et sponsa.
on that day. The Monday following it is counted as the first day of the next week, which is Apocreōs, the name they give to the Sunday which closes that week, and which is our Sexagesima Sunday. The Greek Church begins abstinence from flesh-meat with this week. Then, on the morrow, Monday, commences the week called Tyrophagos, which ends with the Sunday of that name, and which corresponds to our Quinquagesima. White-meats are allowed during that week. Finally, the morrow is the first day of the first week of Lent, and the Fast begins, with all its severity, on that Monday, whilst, in the Latin Church, it is deferred to the Wednesday.
During the whole of Lent, (at least, of the Lent preceding Easter,) milk-meats, eggs, and even fish, are forbidden. The only food permitted to be eaten with bread, is vegetables, honey, and, for those who live near the sea, shell-fish. For many centuries, wine might not be taken; but it is now permitted; and on the Annunciation and Palm Sunday, a dispensation is granted for eating fish.
Besides the Lent preparatory to the feast of Easter, the Greeks keep three others in the year: that which is called of the Apostles, which lasts from the Octave of Pentecost to the feast of Saints Peter and Paul; that of the Virgin Mary, which begins on the first of August, and ends with the Vigil of the Assumption; and, lastly, the Lent of preparation for Christmas, which consists of forty days. The fasting and abstinence of these three Lents are not quite so severe as those observed during the great Lent. The other Christian nations of the East also observe several Lents, and more rigidly than the Greeks;-but all these details would lead us too far. We, therefore, pass on to the Mysteries, which are included in this holy season.
CHAPTER THE SECOND.
THE MYSTERY OF LENT.
WE may be sure, that a season, so sacred as this of Lent, is rich in mysteries. The Church has made it a time of recollection and penance, in preparation for the greatest of all her Feasts; she would, therefore, bring into it everything that could excite the faith of her children, and encourage them to go through the arduous work of atonement for their sins. During Septuagesima, we had the number Seventy, which reminded us of those seventy years' captivity in Babylon, after which, God's chosen people, being purified from idolatry, was to return to Jerusalem and celebrate the Pasch. It is the number Forty that the Church now brings before us :-a number, as St. Jerome observes, which denotes punishment and affliction.1
Let us remember the forty days and forty nights of the Deluge, sent by God in his anger, when he repented that he had made man, and destroyed the whole human race, with the exception of one family. Let us consider how the Hebrew people, in punishment for their ingratitude, wandered forty years in the desert, before they were permitted to enter the Promised Land. Let us listen to our God commanding the Prophet Ezechiel to lie forty days on his right side, as a figure of the siege, which was to bring destruction on Jerusalem.4
There are two, in the Old Testament, who represent, in their own persons, the two manifestations of
1 In Ezechiel. cap. xxix.
3 Num. xiv. 33.
4 Ezech. iv. 6.