Apr 022017

Today is the 5th Sunday in Lent and goes by various names. Until 1959, the 5th Sunday in Lent was officially known in the Roman Catholic Church as Passion Sunday. It marked the beginning of a two-week-long period known as Passiontide, which is still observed by various denominations in Protestantism and by some traditionalist Catholics. In 1960, Pope John XXIII’s Code of Rubrics changed the name to First Sunday of the Passion bringing the name into harmony with the name that Pope Pius XII gave, five years earlier, to the 6th Sunday in Lent, “Second Sunday of the Passion or Palm Sunday.” In Passiontide personal (and Church) reflection shifts from contrition to the crucifixion (and beyond) in the liturgical tradition.  As you can see from my header photo, the light of the world is dimming. But . . . there is hope to come.  I’m sure we sometimes feel this way about the world.  I do these days.  The forces of darkness can seem in the ascendant – but light will prevail in the end.


Although Passiontide as a distinct liturgical season was abolished, the Roman Rite liturgy continues to bring the Passion of Christ to mind, from Monday of the 5th week in Lent onward, through the choice of hymns and readings, and the authorization of the practice of covering crosses and images from the 5th  Sunday of Lent onward, if the Conference of Bishops so decides. Where this practice is followed, crucifixes remain covered until the end of the Good Friday celebration of the Lord’s Passion; statues remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

The entrance antiphon of the Mass on the fifth Sunday in Lent begins with the word “Iudica” (older spelling, “Judica”). This provides another name for that Sunday: “Iudica Sunday” or “Judica Sunday”. Because of the custom of veiling crucifixes and statues in the church before Mass on the fifth Sunday of Lent, this Sunday was called Black Sunday in Germany, where the veils, which elsewhere were generally violet, were black.

This year the common lectionary includes the reading Ezekiel 37:1-14, the image of the valley of dry bones:

37:1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

Ezekiel was a prophet of the Exile whose writings focus on various visions, especially of God and hope for a brighter future. The Valley of Dry Bones image became, of course, a famous spiritual:

Carlins, also called black peas, parched peas or maple peas, were once common in Lancashire, England, on the 5th Sunday in Lent, and the day was called Carlin Sunday. This is similar to the tradition of making carlings which I mentioned last Sunday, although the peas are different.  The words “carlin” and “carling” are obvious cognates and I have no doubt that we are dealing with merging traditions here although the etymology of the words, like the origins of the peas, is obscure. I am not sure why they are associated with Lent because they are typically seasonal in autumn in northern England and Scotland – although they used to be commonly found at fairgrounds and mobile food counters, traditionally eaten (hot or cold) from a cup with salt and malt vinegar.

Classically carlins are fried with butter for a few minutes after being boiled for an hour, rather than being slow boiled for up to three hours. But they can be prepared in the same way that you prepare any dried beans or legumes. They are difficult to come by in stores, but they are fairly easy to find online.  They have a distinctive nutty taste. I prepare them much the same as I prepare ful medames:


That is, I drizzle the cooked carlins with olive oil and cumin, and serve them hot with a boiled egg and flatbread.  Not very Lancashire.

Classically you soak carlins in water overnight. Drain them, then place in a pot, cover with water and simmer for about an hour. You can cook them to a mush of course, but after about an hour the dark skins are starting to peel back. Drain the carlins and let the surface moisture evaporate.  Meanwhile heat one or two tablespoons of butter in a skillet and when it is bubbling toss in the carlins. Make sure they are all nicely coated with butter, then serve with salt and malt vinegar on the side for guests to help themselves.