Sage Advice

The first reading is from the Book of Sirach (also known as the Wisdom of Ben Sira or as Ecclesiasticus – not to be confused with Ecclesiastes). The book is part of the Bible the Catholic Church refers to as Deutero-Canonical, meaning “second canon,” while some parts of Reformed or Protestant Christianity refer to it as part of the apocrypha (from the Late Latin apocryphus “secret, of doubtful authenticity, uncanonical”). In other words, not accepted as part of Sacred Scripture. Why? That is a topic for another time. What is clear is that the book was widely used in early Christian communities and churches in presenting moral teaching to catechumens and to the faithful. This is likely the reason for the name “Liber Ecclesiasticus” meaning “church book.” Continue reading

All in the name

In Italian, Lent is quaresima or forty (days). In German, it is Fastenzeit or time for bodily restraint. Our English word comes from an older Anglo-Saxon word for spring—len(c)ten—whence our Lent. Italian tells us how long it will last (with its symbolic overtones). German tells us what to do in that time. But English tells us what is supposed to happen, that is, we are supposed to experience a springtime of faith, a time of growth and new life.