Editorial by the Rev. Fr. Sebastian Wall, Prior of St. Andrew's House, Carluke, Scotland
In our November edition, last year, we touched briefly on the influence of St. Margaret in the court of Malcolm Canmore with regard to various religious practices. Certainly, we can see her hand in the keeping of Lent and the “Easter duty”. Since April this year is the time when we can follow her good example, I wanted to quote a little more extensively from her dealings with the Culdees who, probably through Manichean scruples, were not fulfilling the reception of Holy Communion part of their Easter duty because of some perceived ‘unworthiness’.
“Shall no one that is a sinner taste that holy mystery? If so, then it follows that no one at all should receive it, for no one is pure from sin. And if no one ought to receive it, why did the Lord make this proclamation in the Gospel? —Except ye shall eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, ye shall not have life in you. But if you would understand the passage which you have quoted from the Apostle according to the interpretation of the Fathers, then you must give it quite a different meaning. The Apostle does not hold that all sinners are unworthy of the sacraments of salvation for after saying ‘He that eateth and drinketh judgment to himself,’ he adds, ‘Not discerning the Body of the Lord’; that is, not distinguishing it by faith from bodily food. It is the man who, without confession and penance, and carrying with him the defilements of his sins presumes to approach the sacred mysteries, such a one, I say it is, who eats and drinks judgment to himself. Whereas we who many days previously have made confession of our sins and have been cleansed from their stains by chastening penance, by trying fasts, by almsgiving and tears— approaching in the Catholic faith to the Lord’s Table on the day of His Resurrection, receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the immaculate Lamb, not to judgment but to the remission of our sins, and as a health-giving preparation for eternal happiness”.
This shows very clearly the importance of receiving Our Lord at Easter (it binds under pain of mortal sin), but also the preparation beforehand, which is precisely why our Lord’s forty day fast in the wilderness is commemorated just before Easter. This is not simply giving up chocolate but ‘chastening penance, trying fasts, almsgiving and tears’. If our Lenten penance thus far has been a little trivial, there are still three weeks left to ramp up our efforts at the start of this month.
With every good wish and blessing,
Rev. Sebastian Wall (Prior)