On Quinquagesima Sunday, in the Epistle, the Church places before us the three virtues which we are to work on during the forty days of Lent. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians says, “There are three virtues, faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
The penances which the Church encourages her children to perform during the forty days of Lent, namely prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, free the soul to believe, to hope, and to love God. It does this because these three penances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving detach us from the things in which we would otherwise put our faith, hope, and love.
At Matins during this week is read the history of Abraham, the “father of true believers”. St. Peter, in whose basilica the Station is held, deserves the same title to a higher degree.
The man born blind, of whom the Gospel tells, is a type of the human race, turned out of Paradise and plunges in the darkness of condemnation.
Jesus, by the merits of His passion, is to open the eyes of men as He did those of the blind man of Jericho, and to give them the light of faith. But faith, of which St. Paul speaks, is as naught without charity (Epistle). The merits of our works, as well as the light which illumines our souls, are in proportion to our charity.
If it is of liturgical origin to grant our souls some relaxation before undertaking the Lenten penance which is imposed on all, let us not forget that the Church condemns all excesses; and for the expiation of such as are committed, let us join in the Forty Hours prayers which Pope Clement XIII (1765) has endowed with many indulgences.