IN RESPONSE TO A READER – Questions about Lent
– Don Enrico Finotti
The time of Lent is a penitential time and the Church, in her liturgy, expresses this character through eloquent and ancient signs, which immediately recall to the Christian people the mystery of this liturgical time:
1. The purple color of the sacred vestments indicates penance and austerity, which pervade both the prayer and the life of the Christian in the Lenten journey.
2. The absence of floral ornaments, not only on the altar, but also throughout the building of the church, manifests, in the sign, that desert, which is proposed to the Christian people in its preparation for the Easter celebration. In fact: the ancient people of God are enabled to enter the promised land with forty years of desert; John the Baptist prepares the people for the imminent coming of the Messiah, summoning them to the desert; the Lord himself begins his public mission with the forty days spent in the desert.
3. In this symbolic context we understand the liturgical norm of the absence of the sound of the organ (or of the other musical instruments), if not limited to the accompaniment of the song, avoiding however the solo playing, both during the celebration and out of it.
4. With regard to the songs of Lent, the musical tradition of the Church has preserved melodies that are consonant with the austere and penitential character of this sacred time, so as to impress not only in the texts of the Proper, but also in those of the Ordinary of Mass , that typicality that configures them to the specificity of the mystery celebrated. The appeal to Gregorian chant is therefore indispensable to grasp these nuances of high spiritual profile and unsurpassed genius.
It is evident that such signs become educational if they are carried out accurately in obedience to the provisions of the Church. It is not a matter of coldly using the rubrics, sometimes applied without formation and therefore in a minimal way, but to realize with intelligence, conviction, fidelity and good taste the established liturgical dispositions, so that the Christian people may be built by the language of symbols and so to receive with greater spiritual efficacy the fruit of grace connected to the holy Lenten mysteries.
Moreover, these signs must be constantly explained to the people with appropriate liturgical catechesis.