Ash Wednesday

 

ash wed

Gospel Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

 

You have probably read or heard this gospel many time before, but have you given any thought as to how it relates to you and your life?  As lent begins today, make a commitment to do something that will make your relationship with God stronger.  Let’s begin with this gospel.

 

Prayer-

Matthew Kelly, a renowned speaker for the Catholic Church, often encourages us to spend time in the “classroom of silence.”  Jesus speaks of the inner room, which I imagine as my classroom of silence.  This also could be Eucharistic Adoration, driving in your car with the radio off, or just going deep into your soul and finding Jesus there waiting for you.

 

Fasting-

I think people dread this part of lent.  If we look at fasting as a way to make us a better person, I believe it would be easier to choose what we will fast from.  Of course, Catholics will abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on Friday’s during lent but there is much more to fasting than just giving up something. I’m not saying that giving up something that means a lot to us isn’t a good thing, but this year, try to give it a little more thought.  Why not fast from racing through the day without giving thanks for the blessings that you’ve been given?  How about fasting from being critical of others?  How about fasting from forgiving yourself especially when your Father has already forgiven you?

 

Almsgiving-

Jesus is telling us that when we give to others, whether it is monetarily or of our time, we shouldn’t be looking for a pat on the back for doing the right thing.  Jesus will see what we do and reward us. I believe that this also means that when we decide what our prayer and fasting is for lent, that we shouldn’t tell everyone in order to make ourselves feel good about what we have chosen to do. Instead, keep it between God and ourselves.  I know there have been times when it’s been difficult to NOT talk about what I’ve ‘given up’ for lent but I have found that it is a special bond between me and God and I treasure that.

 

There are many tools available to help you stay focused on what we are preparing for during lent. There are Ash services at every Catholic Church today and at St. Michaels, there will be mass with ashes this morning at 8:00; an Ash and Word Service at 12:00 and 5:00 and an Ash and Word Service at 7:00 p.m.  St. Michaels also offers the Stations of the Cross each Friday night at 7:00 p.m.  I invite you to attend this moving service and to place yourselves at the foot of the cross that He carried and died on for us.


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