Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18; 2Cor 5:20-6:2; Matt 6:1-6, 16-18

Almsgiving, Praying, Fasting

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

“Lord, bless the sinner who asks for your forgiveness and bless those who receive these ashes. May they keep this Lenten season in preparation for the joy of Easter.”

This short prayer over the ashes summarizes the meaning of the season of Lent. We admit that we are sinners. We are sorry and we long for forgiveness. The Lenten season, often experienced as depressing because of the focus on repentance, is actually a “joyful season,” because it is a preparation for Easter, the feast that foreshadows our eternal Easter which we hope to enter after our death.

The ashes we bless and receive today are made from the palm branches we waved joyfully last year on Palm Sunday. Then they were fresh and green, a pleasure to look at. They were symbols of our faith in Jesus Christ, the King of kings, to whom we renewed our allegiance during the Easter Vigil when we renewed our baptismal promises. Now these branches are dry, brown, unpleasant to look at: symbols of our souls which, over the weeks and months, were soiled again by our imperfections, our disloyalty, our sins.

But God gives us today another chance to return to Him, to return to the beauty and innocence of our baptism. “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.” With these words He gives us the guide to reach the goal of this season: repentance and faithfulness to the words of Christ who speaks daily to us through the liturgy.

Some ancient practices of Lent may help us: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, works of mercy. This combination makes us reach out to God as well as to our neighbor. (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

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The blessed season of Lent starts with a day of fast and abstinence, Ash Wednesday, and ends with another day of fast and abstinence, Good Friday.

Fasting reminds me of a fellow Divine Word Missionary from Latin America who told me and two or three other SVD priests this rather unusual account of himself: Once a year, he would go on strict fasting, subsisting only on water – for two weeks! He would start by depriving himself of food, gradually. Like, on the first day he would forego lunch, on the second day, also supper, and on the third he would forego all three meals. Then it would follow the days without food all, just plain water. And he would continue to work, like giving a retreat and the retreatants would worry about him because they would prepare food for him he would not touch it. He would take only water. And he would be feeling comfortable, fit and light, as he goes about doing his work. Towards the end of the two weeks, he would go back to food, also gradually, very gradually, very gradually. He made us understand that he would observe this yearly prolonged fast primarily for reasons of health. And he looked healthy, indeed. Now, after many years, he is still working as a missionary.

Though my confrere from Latin America did not mention to us any religious motive alongside health reasons, I believe that he also offered his sacrifice to God each time that he would go into the prolonged fast. Otherwise, for him to omit offering that sacrifice to God would be to fail in something precious. That he would offer it was to be expected of a priest of God. For isn’t a priest essentially one whop offers sacrifice to God?

Probably our fasting friend was being mindful all along of the Lord’s teaching, as we have it in today’s gospel. We are not to parade our good works – be they almsgiving or praying or fasting or what have you. We are not to do them in order to win praise of people. if praise is what we want, praise will be all is our reward.

Enough of the SELF PROMO business that we are into most of the time, if not all the time. Instead, promote GOG’S GLORY AND His alone. This would be a most worthy project for this Lent – and beyond, to the rest of our days. (Fr. Cornelio B. Alpuerto, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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Every year the Church calls us to conversion during the 40 days of Lent. The door to enter this great season is Ash Wednesday, when many people flock to the Churches to receive the ashes on their head or forehead as a sign of their being ready to admit that they need conversion, forgiveness of their sins and to acknowledge that only with God’s help can they return to God and amend their lives.

However, the aim and goal of Lent is ultimately not in the first sense to turn away from our wrong ways and behavior but to turn towards God. Its real intention is to lead the person to a renewed experience of God; to open him/herself to the presence of the infinite in his own life, to “see God face to face,” as the Bible has it. From the ancient times the Church has offered the faithful three times during the Lenten season to reach that goal of a renewed life: prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

These three means have always been regarded by the saints and wise of all religions as occasions only to make ourselves ready, to create alertness and to shape the senses for an encounter with God, so that we will not miss the hour when God wants to meet us.

In the Old Testament fasting is practiced as a preparation for an encounter with God, to converse with God.  “Moses stayed there with Yahweh for 40 days and nights, eating and drinking nothing. He inscribed on the tablets the words of the covenant – the ten words,” (Ex. 34:28).

This is the background for the story of Jesus fasting 40 days and nights. Jesus standing on the threshold of bringing the new covenant prepares himself like Moses did. He lived for 40 days face to face with the Father and encountering the arch-enemy whom he would have to conquer, if the new covenant with God should ever come true.

But soon fasting became associated with mourning that should move God to mercy and compassion. Later it became connected with pious achievement before God.

Jesus could not let His disciples as a sign of mourning or in order to make themselves accepted by God. The incoming Kingdom had nothing to do with mourning and sadness; it should be experienced as a joyful time. If ever His disciples should fast, it should lead them into the joyful presence of the Lord.

The Church Fathers were very much concerned that fasting would be down to earth. Fasting was a means to an end. It was valid only if: 1) it leads me into the presence of God in order to face myself as I am in his eyes; 2) it leads me to union with my brothers and sisters to fraternal love; 3) ultimately, it leads me to union with God.

The two great personalities that took up in their sermons the topic of Lent are Augustine and Leo the Great.

For Augustine the chief activity on Lent is seen as a time for renewal in the practice of prayer. Fasting and acts of charity are seen totally in the service of prayer. As he puts it: “By almsgiving and fasting we add wings of fervor to our prayers so that they may move easily up and reached God.”

Leo the Great in all his twelve Lenten sermons concentrated more on brotherly love that is given concrete expression in almsgiving and secondly in forgiveness of the offences done by others to us. “The two wings on which our prayer mounts up to God” forgiveness of offences and alms to the needy.”

And to those who really want to fast he says: “Our fasting does not consists  merely in abstinence from food; in fact, there is no profit in depriving the body on nourishment unless the tongue abstains from quarrelling.”

The true aim of Lent is not fasting, prayer or even almsgiving; they are means to an end. The true aim of Lent is to enter the presence of God; to discover again the basic truths of the New Testament. First, God always love me unconditionally as I am now. Secondly, God always forgives me, no matter how I have failed. Thirdly, God is always with me, he never will leave me.

Lent means to let ourselves be reassured of these basic truths. Or to conclude, Lent should make sure that we will not miss the moment when God wants to meet us. (Fr. John Fuellenbach, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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Most politicians in the Philippines love to print in bold letters their names on the public projects they sponsored. In Austria there are also projects initiated by the government but so far I have I have not yet seen names of individual politicians labelled on them. Is this a question of political system? Or is it simply a question of personal interest?

Jesus in today’s gospel exhorts us ‘to take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Nothing wrong if people see what we are doing, but if we are doing it only for selfish reasons, then it becomes superficial for it does not come really from within, from the heart whose contents the public does not know.

The word ‘alms’ is closely related to ‘mercy’ or ‘compassion.’ So the Jews gave alms to people who were in need out of mercy and compassion. And it was done to the extent that the giver became selfless. As the gospel illustrates, “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Today we begin the Lenten season, a time for us to reorient our lives to things or activities which glorify God. Lent does not only underline our sinfulness but also our willingness to be constantly reconciled with God. When we fall, we should get up and move on. He is there and is always inviting us to return to Him for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment (first reading)- Frt. Cirilo Boloron, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

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The authentic expression of Christian faith such as almsgiving, prayer and fasting would surely find its rightful place in situations of pain and suffering.

I remember several years ago, I expressed in kind words my admiration and appreciation to a diocesan priest of Lipa for his efforts in collecting and sending truckloads of food and clothing to the flood victims of Lucena and Quezon. I said: “Ang galing mo, Father!” (You’re very good, Father), to which he replied jokingly, “Naku, meron na sana akong gantimpala nawala pa!” (I could have my reward, now it’s lost).

Today’s gospel guarantees that anyone who works for the eradication of unjust social structures, for poverty alleviation and healing, publicly or privately, in big or small scale, without any desire or intent to be recognized, praised and admired, will be rewarded in heaven.

The true spirit of living our Christian faith which maybe expressed through almsgiving, prayer and fasting, have to be performed without any desire for public adulation. It is supposed to hidden from the eyes of people.

Reflect: have I involved myself recently in serious social actions without any personal hidden agenda? Am I among those labelled “anonymous” who regularly and generously donate to victims of either natural or man-made calamities? Do the spirit of joy and cheerfulness characterize my generosity? In what way is my Christian spirituality different from those of the Scribes and Pharisees? (Fr. Ed Fugoso, SVD Bible Diary 2009)

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February 10, 2016 Wednesday

During a celebration of the Holy Eucharist on an Ash Wednesday in Pamplona, Cagayan, I noticed one of the students kept on touching her forehead. After the Mass, I asked her about it. “Nakakahiya sabihin, father, but I really had the very strong urge to remove the ash you put on my forehead. My mind kept telling me it was itchy. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling I had”.

Today, the prophet Joel in the rst reading invites us to commence the annual Lenten journey of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. But Lent is not only the time for fasting or almsgiving but basically a time for repentance. During this time we feel the weight of sin as we come to terms with our consciences. It is here where my reflection regarding my personal experience with that young fellow Christian above comes into play. I remember telling her and her group that it was alright when she felt like removing the ash on her forehead and that anyone could feel uncomfortable with it. I went on to admonish them to consider seriously what the ‘ashes’ had to do with their lives. That the ashes were to remind them including myself that life is short and that “We are dust and unto dust we shall return”. The ashes on the foreheads also urge us who have received them to change our innermost attitudes and manners that are bad and sinful. When we, like that student I met, feel strongly the urge of removing the ashes too soon, it is because the presence of sin in our hearts makes us uncomfortable.

St. Paul in the 2nd reading redirects such strong feeling towards reconciliation with God. The words spoken by the priest “Repent and believe in the Gospel” becomes then a rule of new life in us. In this way, our anticipation of a glorious resurrection becomes more meaningful as ever. (Fr. Emil Pati, SVD San Fernando, La Union Bible Diary 2016)

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JOY OF BEING HIDDEN: there are different ways of finding joy. One of my friends defines joy this way: “Joy is doing something good secretly and then being discovered by accident.” The first part – doing things secretly, is what the Lord recommends. But to wish that it would be discovered by accident and be appreciated or it, is not recommended by the Lord. Do things hidden from onlooker’s prying eyes, secretly, without fanfare. If there is anything we want to take home today, Ash Wednesday, remember this word all the time, ‘hidden.’

It is very easy to do good things in a hidden fashion. We can abstain, let go of soft drinks, meat or ice cream anytime. It is very easy to do all that. The problem is that after a few hours of sacrifice, we start to complain and say: “Ang hirap-hirap.” Actually, for some of us who complain, it is not because we really want to complain but because we want to tell others: “Look, I am making a sacrifice.” For some, it is not so much the difficulty but more the desire to make people see that we are sacrificing in a hidden manner and then they will appreciate us. Take that word with you and bring it to life – ‘hidden.’

The problem in the Church, the government, of the country and the world is really that we do not know how to appreciate working without people watching and applauding. We cannot seem to do good things in a hidden manner. Christ after His resurrection always did things ‘hidden.’ When He was recognized, he slipped away. He refused popularity because, as Mother Teresa said, “We are called not to be successful but to be faithful.” Imitate my friend. Find joy in doing things in a hidden way. But when you are not discovered by accident, or you are not appreciated, do not complain. Leave it to God. I assure you, God sees. (Bishop Socrates Villegas, Love Like Jesus p. 46)

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SOLITUDE, SACRIFICE, SHARE: the EDSA Shrine is fullest on Ash Wednesday, more than Christmas, more than the EDSA Anniversary. We are fullest on Ash Wednesday and it is not even a holiday of obligation. No one is required or obliged to go to Mass today, and yet all of us are here. Why are we here? Why are we jam-packed inside the EDSA Shrine? I believe we are here because we all want to be better and we are here because we know that we are not the best that we could be.

Our readings for today give us some encouraging words. From the Book of the prophet Joel and the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, we are assured that this is the best time to be better. We are assured that this is the best time to rise out of our bad habits, from our wretchedness, from our sinfulness and be better. While Ash Wednesday is the best time to be good, the third week of November, the first week of September, the last week of January and any other time is also good time to be good. In other words, we must not wait for Ash Wednesday in order to turn away from sin. Everyday of the year is an invitation for us to turn away from sin.

What is being asked of us if we want to turn away from sin? There are things. First is Solitude. I appreciate our being together but our coming together as a community must be complemented by being alone: Being alone, away from the community, being away from people and being alone away from the crowd in order to be with God. We must find time to be alone. If there seems to be no other, the toilet is a good place to be alone and there commune with God. I’m sure no one is going to disturb you there unless a line has formed outside the door.

Second is Sacrifice. Today is day of fasting. It is a day of abstinence. We are supposed to let go of the things that we enjoy. We are supposed to let go of the things that are pleasing to the senses, pleasing to the taste. Why should we let go? Why should we sacrifice? Sacrifice in itself is not good. Sacrifice only becomes good when it is accompanied by the third, sharing. In other words, the food that will not be eaten today, please give away. Don’t eat it tomorrow. In other words, the food that we will not eat today must be given away to somebody who is poor, to somebody who is hungry practically 365 days of the year. That is the way of fasting.

Solitude, sacrifice and sharing. Let us not do it only on Ash Wednesday. Let us do it everyday of the year. Ash Wednesday makes us focus our attention on these three S’s – Solitude, Sacrifice and Sharing. The Christian life is characterized by these three things together, everyday of the year. (Bishop Socrates Villegas, Love Like Jesus p. 59-60)

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CHRISTIAN PENANCE (Matt 6:16-18): It is good for us to reflect together what Lent invites us to do.

Lent stands on three legs – – prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

More than any period of the year, we are asked to pray, give alms and fast during this holy season.

Lent is a season of prayer. We do not mean that Lent is a season for more prayer, it is actually a season for better prayer. Lent is not an invitation to multiply Hail Marys or novenas. We can multiply your novenas but that will not be in the spirit of Lent. The spirit of Lent means better prayer, not simply more prayers. The question is the quality of our prayer that is to be offered to God during this season of Lent. Prayer that does not take root in our hearts will lead us nowhere. It will just message our ego and convince us that we are good. If there is no love in your heart it amounts to nothing.

The second leg is almsgiving. Almsgiving is not simply giving something to some poor person. It is not simply taking a coin from your pocket and dropping it into the tin can of a street child or a blind beggar.

Almsgiving means thinking of other people. Almsgiving means sharing with other people. Almsgiving means giving a listening ear to somebody who needs advice. Almsgiving means accepting the apology of somebody who always hurts you. That is still almsgiving.

Alms is a general term. It is not simply something that is given out of charity. Alms is doing something concretely for a neighbour.

Fasting is not simply missing food. It is not simply dieting the season of Lent is for fasting, it is for us to impose on ourselves that discipline. It is craving for something but exercising restraint in giving in to it. It is conquering inner desires for something that we want to do or to have.

Since Lent stands on three legs, it also brings to us three fruits. Prayer encourages us to deepen our relationship with God. Almsgiving improves our relationship with each other. Fasting and sacrifice enhances our self-discipline.

Lent gives us three fruits – an improved relationship with God, an improved relationship with other people and a better awareness and control of our self.

A good manager knows where he is going. A good manager plans and does not simply float. We should know where we are going not only in terms of our career but most of all in terms of our spiritual life.

Praying, fasting and almsgiving, these acts must improve our relationship with God, our fellowmen and even with ourselves.

Let us ask the Lord to keep that spirit always alive in our hearts. (Socrates Villegas, Only Jesus Always Jesus, pp. 119-120)

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It is the first day of the holy season of Lent. We see again the purple vestments and linens in the churches, reminding us that this is a season for repentance and conversion. Today we publicly admit that we are all sinners, as we have our foreheads marked with ashes in the form of the cross as part of our traditional Lenten practices. The ashes are a sign of our mortality: our time on earth is limited; someday we will die, and everything in this life will come to an end. We also fast and abstain from eating meat today. These practices give us an opportunity to set aside what us of limited value and focus on what is of supreme importance to us, our eternal life with God.

There are two admonitions which may be said to us as we receive the mark of ashes. One refers to the ashes: “Remember man, you are dust and to dust you will return,” (gen 3:19). The other refers to the call to repentance and conversion, which is the theme of today’s readings: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel,” (Mk 1:15).

This is a special opportunity for us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, who helps us become more aware of how we have offended the greatness and goodness of God, and fills us with the grace of repentance. Our hearts are heavy and burdened with sins but if we humble ourselves and turn back to God, he will console us with His gift of mercy and the joy of salvation. This takes place in a special way through the Sacrament of Confession. Every Catholic who is serious about his faith will not let Lent go by without making a good Confession.

Jesus is the gospel gives us three practical ways to live out our repentance and our decision to turn back to God: almsgiving, fasting, and prayer. In almsgiving, we consider the needs of our neighbours in a particular way. We stretch beyond concern for ourselves and our own families and open our hearts to needs of the sick, the suffering, and the poverty-stricken. We give according to our ability, and we can even further our almsgiving by combining it with fasting – for example, giving up some luxury or denying ourselves some comfort so as to use the money for the good of a person in need.

There are many ways for us to deepen our prayer during this season. We can make an effort to get to daily Mass if possible. We can spend time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, reflect quietly on the scripture readings of each day’s Mass, pray the Rosary, participate in the Station of the Cross, or say the chaplet of Divine Mercy. The purpose of our prayers is not to fulfil an expectation or to prove to ourselves (or anyone else!) that we are serious about Lent. That is exactly the sort of mentality Jesus warns us against when he says, “Be on guard against performing religious acts for people to see.” The essence of prayer is in the “secret room” of the heart. There is where we enter into conversation with the Father, “who sees what no man sees.”

Fasting is a way for us to empty ourselves so that God can fill us. We fast not only from food but from anything that may draw us away from the Lord. The modern world can so easily fill our hearts and minds with ideas and sounds, so part of our fasting should included cutting into our constant connection to music, movies, TV, the Internet, and other entertainment which leaves so little space for God. When we fast, we put our desires under control. We turn our focus way from ourselves and our wants; we open ourselves to the needs of those around us, and to inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

The ashes, almsgiving, prayer and fasting are worthless if they are reduced to mere outward show. They are to be expressions of a repentant heart, moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loves us first. Conversion is a change that takes place from inside out. Our inner repentance urges us to take on more outward acts of love and penance in reparation for sins: acts done for the love of God and not for any human praise, entitlement or worldly return. Our heavenly Father sees all of our actions, and will reward us abundantly. So we do not need to focus on rewards, but only on God and His loving mercy.

The Liturgy urges to begin Lent well! As St. Paul exhorts us in the second reading: “Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!

How is the Lord calling me to live this Lent? In what areas of my life do i need to apply the practices of penance, so that I may grow in the love of God and neighbour? What distracts me in my spiritual life? What am I going to do about it this Lent? (from: Pondering the Word The Anawim Way-February 22, 2012 to April 5, 2012/Cycle B Year 2, Ash Wednesday, pp. 16-18)

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Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Almsgiving, Prayer, Fasting 

[Jesus said to his disciples,] 1“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. 2When 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. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, 4so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

5“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. 6But 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.

16“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. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18so 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.”


Reflection:
When you give alms. Ash Wednesday opens the season of Lent with the blessing and imposition of ashes. We are reminded, “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return.” Or we are challenged, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

The three pillars of Jewish piety—almsgiving, prayer, and fasting—sum up the challenge of the season in the word ASH.

A is for almsgiving. We have compassion for our less fortunate brothers and sisters and attend to their needs.

S is for sacrifice that underlies fasting. We deprive ourselves of human pleasure and comfort so as to find our happiness in God alone. We give up some good like food to be in solidarity with the poor and share our blessings with them.

H is for holiness that is nurtured by prayer. To be holy is to be in communion with Jesus and to make him the center of our life. In prayer, we attune our lives to him and make him rule our ways and our will.

What hinders me from following Jesus completely 
and committing myself unconditionally to him?

ssp.ph/index.php/365-Days-with-the-lord/february-22-2012.html

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KUWARESMA: Reflection for Ash Wednesday Year B – February 22, 2012

Miyerkules na naman ng Abo! Susugod na naman tayo sa simbahan upang madumihan ang ating noo. Panahon na naman na kung saan ay hihikayatin tayong palalimin ang ating buhay panalangin. Panahon na naman na kung saan ay makakaramdam tayo ng gutom. Panahon na naman upang makapagbigay tayo ng tulong sa ating kapwa lalo na ang higit na nangangailangan. Ang araw na ito ang simula ng panahon na tinatawag nating Kuwaresma o ang apatnapung araw ng paghahanda natin sa pagdiriwang ng pagpapakasakit, pagkamatay at muling pagkabuhay ni Hesus. Sa araw ding ito ay isinasagawa natin ang ikatlong utos ng Simbahan na “fasting and abstinence”. Minsang may isang dalagitang nagsabi sa isang pari : “Father, di ko na kailangang magfasting ngayong Lent! Matagal ko po’ng ginagawa yan… nagdidieting naman po ako!” “Ineng,” ang sabi ng pari, “ang dieting ay para maging kahali-halina ang figure mo, ang fasting… para maging kaaya-aya ang kaluluwa mo.” Ito dapat ang iniisip natin tuwing papasok ang kuwaresma: “Paano ko ba magagawang kahali-halina ang aking kaluluwa? Paano ko ba mapapabanal ang aking sarili?” Madami na tayong pagdisiplinang ginagawa sa ating katawan. Kung tutuusin ay labis na ang ating pag-aalaga dito. Pansinin mo na lang ang mga produktong lumalabas sa mga advertisements sa television: may non-fat milk, may sugar free na cofee, may mga diet softdrinks, at marami pang iba. Halos lahat ay para sa mapanatili ang magandang pangangatawan. Kailan pa natin pagtutuunan ng pansin ang ating kaluluwa? Ang panahon ng Kuwaresma ay nagbibigay sa atin ng pagkakataon. Sa pamamagitan ng pag-aayuno ay madidisiplina natin ating kaluluwa. Sa pamamagitan ng panalangin ay mapapalalim natin ang ating kaugnayan sa Diyos. At sa pamamagitan ng pagkakawang-gawa ay tinatalo natin ang ating pagkamakasarili! Ngunit pansinin na balewala ang lahat ng ito, kahit na ang mismong paglalagay ng abo sa noo, kung di naman bukal sa ating sarili ang pagnanais na magbago. Pansinin ang ebandhelyo ngayon: Balewala ang paggawa ng mabuti, pagdarasal at pag-aayuno kung pakitang-tao lamang! Isapuso natin ang tunay na pagbabago! Ang tunay na pagbabago ay nagmumula sa kaibuturan ng puso ng tao at hindi sa panlabas na pagpapakita nito. Pakinggan mong mabuti ang sasabihin ng pari kapag nagpalagay ka ng abo… “Magsisi ka sa iyong mga kasalanan at sumampalataya sa Ebanghelyo!” Iyan ang tunay na pagbabago at iyan ang dapat na isasaloob natin sa apatnapung araw ng Kuwaresma.

kiliti-ng-diyos.blogspot.com/2012/02/kuwaresma-reflection-for-ash-wednesday.html

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MIYERKULES NG ABO (Reposted) : Reflection for Ash Wednesday – March 5, 2014 – YEAR OF THE LAITY

Miyerkules na naman ng Abo! Susugod na naman tayo sa simbahan upang madumihan ang ating noo. Panahon na naman na kung saan ay hihikayatin tayong palalimin ang ating buhay panalangin. Panahon na naman na kung saan ay makakaramdam tayo ng gutom. Panahon na naman upang makapagbigay tayo ng tulong sa ating kapwa lalo na ang higit na nangangailangan. Ang araw na ito ang simula ng panahon na tinatawag nating Kuwaresma o ang apatnapung araw ng paghahanda natin sa pagdiriwang ng pagpapakasakit, pagkamatay at muling pagkabuhay ni Hesus. Sa araw ding ito ay isinasagawa natin ang ikatlong utos ng Simbahan na “fasting and abstinence”. Minsang may isang dalagitang nagsabi sa isang pari : “Father, di ko na kailangang magfasting ngayong Lent! Matagal ko po’ng ginagawa yan… nagdidieting naman po ako!” “Ineng,” ang sabi ng pari, “ang dieting ay para maging kahali-halina ang figure mo, ang fasting… para maging kaaya-aya ang kaluluwa mo.” Ito dapat ang iniisip natin tuwing papasok ang kuwaresma: “Paano ko ba magagawang kahali-halina ang aking kaluluwa? Paano ko ba mapapabanal ang aking sarili?” Madami na tayong pagdisiplinang ginagawa sa ating katawan. Kung tutuusin ay labis na ang ating pag-aalaga dito. Pansinin mo na lang ang mga produktong lumalabas sa mga advertisements sa television: may non-fat milk, may sugar free na cofee, may mga diet softdrinks, at marami pang iba. Halos lahat ay para sa mapanatili ang magandang pangangatawan. Kailan pa natin pagtutuunan ng pansin ang ating kaluluwa? Ang panahon ng Kuwaresma ay nagbibigay sa atin ng pagkakataon. Sa pamamagitan ng pag-aayuno ay madidisiplina natin ating kaluluwa. Sa pamamagitan ng panalangin ay mapapalalim natin ang ating kaugnayan sa Diyos. At sa pamamagitan ng pagkakawang-gawa ay tinatalo natin ang ating pagkamakasarili! Ngunit pansinin na balewala ang lahat ng ito, kahit na ang mismong paglalagay ng abo sa noo, kung di naman bukal sa ating sarili ang pagnanais na magbago. Pansinin ang ebandhelyo ngayon: Balewala ang paggawa ng mabuti, pagdarasal at pag-aayuno kung pakitang-tao lamang! Isapuso natin ang tunay na pagbabago! Ang tunay na pagbabago ay nagmumula sa kaibuturan ng puso ng tao at hindi sa panlabas na pagpapakita nito. Pakinggan mong mabuti ang sasabihin ng pari kapag nagpalagay ka ng abo… “Magsisi ka sa iyong mga kasalanan at sumampalataya sa Ebanghelyo!” Iyan ang tunay na pagbabago at iyan ang dapat na isasaloob natin sa apatnapung araw ng Kuwaresma.

kiliti-ng-diyos.blogspot.com/2014/03/miyerkules-ng-abo-reposted-reflection.html

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Ash Wednesday (Year C)

Today is the beginning of the season of Lent, which will culminate during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. We call this day “Ash Wednesday” because, traditionally, we do during the Mass the blessing and giving of ashes. This penitential rite reminds us, in a symbolic manner, of our frail, limited human nature and of our great need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. As the minister imposes the ashes on our foreheads, he says either one of the two formulas: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel” (Mk 1:15) or “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return (cf. Gen 3:19).

Lent is a 40-day penitential season, but it is not all about human sinfulness. In fact, during this season, the Church would like us to reflect on the unmerited benevolence of God. Our prayer and reflection would reach its climax during the celebration of the paschal mystery of Christ our Lord. By then we will be reminded that God loved us so much to the point of allowing His only Son to die on the cross in order to save us from death which is the effect of sin. The Lord’s resurrection will renew our hope that someday we all will share eternal life with God in heaven.

The season of Lent provides us with the special opportunity to respond positively to God’s gratuitous offer of love and forgiveness. The first reading reminds us that God “is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness and ready to relent” (Joel 2:13). In the second reading, Saint Paul appeals that we be reconciled to God because He has already done His part. God in Jesus has entered the sinful human condition in order to help us rediscover the beautiful image that we lost by sinning. The favorable time of salvation is already now, not later. God wants us to leave sin behind and to start walking in His ways.

The gospel mentions three traditional practices of the Lenten season, namely: almsgiving, fasting and prayer. These three are not mere external penitential requirements; rather, they are meant to usher us towards living fully the Christian life.

When we give alms, we are reminded that the goods of the earth are meant for all humanity to enjoy. How conscious are we of the presence of so many poor, hungry, sick people around us? By sharing generously and unconditionally our possessions, we can be the Good Samaritan that Jesus wanted us to become for others.

When we fast, we learn to discipline our natural appetite and desires. Often, we easily give in to our selfish cravings for non-essential things of the world, things that do not truly contribute to our total nourishment and well-being. Naturally, when we deny ourselves of some things, we also save some money. Our fasting becomes more meaningful when we give what we have saved to the poor and the needy.

When we pray intensely and heartily, we become more and more sensitive to the will of God in our lives. Particularly, during the Lenten season, God wants to create a pure heart in us and to renew within us a steadfast spirit. Let us then open our hearts to God’s grace and begin to follow the way of Jesus Christ our Lord!

Satan confronted God about an issue of justice and forgiveness. “It is totally unfair that people kept sinning and you also kept on forgiving them. Why did you condemn me for eternity after I made a single revolt?”

And God replied, “Satan, you wanted to be forgiven, but have you ever said ‘I’m sorry’?” (Fr. Abet Uy)

abetuy.blogspot.com/2013/02/ash-wednesday-year-c.html

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Reflection: We end only with God.

Today is Ash Wednesday. We begin the season of Lent. We start it by putting on ashes in the sign of the cross on our foreheads. The priest then say as a reminder for us: “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” Or he imparts those words as a challenge for us to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

Now, why do we have to put on ashes in the sign of the cross on our foreheads? It is to remember two essential things in life. First is we are created by God. “Then the Lord God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it. He breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live.” Thus, we came from God. After God, we must model our whole life. our whole life begins with God, so must we end only with God. Second, ash is totally black. It is a stain. Its dirty. This reminds us what sin does to our soul. Sin makes us dirty. Sin is stain in our becoming what God wants us to be. Sin is a black spot in our relationship with God. Thus, this sacramental sign of putting ashes on our foreheads must lead us to repentance, which is to be aware of the grave consequences of sins and be truly contrite for them.

What must we do? Let us remember the three basic words of Lent. This is from the word ASH. A is for Almsgiving. It is to be like Jesus. That is, we care for others. We are concerned for them. We have compassion for their wellbeing. We are sensitive to their needs. To give alms is to die to selfishness, to being greedy and to being possessive. S is for Sacrifices. It is to do what Jesus did. It is to commit ourselves to Him.  To undergo sacrifices is to die to the gratification of our senses. We deprive ourselves of our human pleasures and comfort. We get rid of our masks and pretenses. Thus, we realize that our utmost pleasure and comfort in life is God and from God alone. H is for Holiness. It is to be in communion with Jesus. To be holy is to be open our whole life to Jesus. We make him the center of our life. we make him rule our ways and our will. We make him the first and foremost in the course of our works and words. We attune our life to Him. We want to be like him as he says to us, “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matthew 5:48).

When we do these: Ash Wednesday is not a seasonal affair. It should be now and forever. Yes, in and out of season. (Msgr. Ruperto C. Santos, Jesus Serves and Saves Us, Makati: St. Pauls, 2003:4-5)

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9 things to know and share about Ash Wednesday – by Jimmy Akin Tuesday, March 04, 2014 1:27 PM

Ash Wednesday is upon us again!

Here are 9 things you need to know and share . . .

  1. What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the day that Lent begins (see: 9 things you need to know about Lent).

The name comes from the fact that a particular rite is always celebrated on this Wednesday in which the faithful have ashes put on their foreheads.

According to the Roman Missal: In the course of today’s Mass, ashes are blessed and distributed. These are made from the olive branches or branches of other trees that were blessed the previous year [on Palm/Passion Sunday].

  1. What does the putting on of ashes symbolize?

According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: 125. In the Roman Rite, the beginning of the forty days of penance is marked with the austere symbol of ashes which are used in the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday.

The use of ashes is a survival from an ancient rite according to which converted sinners submitted themselves to canonical penance.

The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God.

Far from being a merely external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolize that attitude of internal penance to which all the baptized are called during Lent.

The faithful who come to receive ashes should be assisted in perceiving the implicit internal significance of this act, which disposes them towards conversion and renewed Easter commitment.

  1. How does the distribution of ashes take place?

The Roman Missal states that after the homily, the priest blesses the ashes and sprinkles them with holy water.

Then the priest places ashes on the head of all those present who come to him, and says to each one: Repent, and believe the Gospel. Or: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Meanwhile an antiphon or another appropriate chant is sung.

  1. Is there a particular way the ashes should be put on people’s heads?

Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at Regina Apostolorum University comments: There are no set rules regarding this, and it largely depends on local custom.

In most English-speaking countries the prevailing custom seems to be that the priest places enough holy water into the ashes to form a kind of paste. The ashes are then daubed in the form of a cross on the forehead.

Many Catholics see this practice as a means of publicly showing their faith and leave the smudge on their forehead throughout Ash Wednesday.

In other countries, such as Spain, Italy and parts of Latin America, the prevailing custom seems to be sprinkling fairly dry ashes on the crown of the head. But even within these geographical areas, both customs are practiced and there may be other legitimate traditions as well.

  1. Can this be done outside of Mass?

Yes. The Roman Missal states: The blessing and distribution of ashes may also take place outside Mass. In this case, the rite is preceded by a Liturgy of the Word, with the Entrance Antiphon, the Collect, and the readings with their chants as at Mass.

Then there follow the Homily and the blessing and distribution of ashes.

The rite is concluded with the Universal Prayer, the Blessing, and the Dismissal of the Faithful.

  1. Can someone other than a priest distribute the ashes? 

Yes. The Book of Blessings states: 1659 This rite may be celebrated by a priest or deacon who may be assisted by lay ministers in the distribution of ashes. The blessing of the ashes, however, is reserved to a priest or deacon.

  1. How long do you leave the ashes on?

There is no rule about this. It is a matter of personal decision based on the individual’s own inclinations and circumstances.

The ashes can be left on until they wear off naturally or they can be washed off or wiped off when the individual chooses.

  1. Can ashes be distributed to the sick who cannot attend Mass?

Yes. The Book of Blessings states: 1657 This order [in the Book of Blessings] may also be used when ashes are brought to the sick. According to circumstancs, the rite may be abbreviated by the minister. Nevertheless, at least one Scripture reading should be included in the service.

1658 If already blessed ashes are brought to the sick, the blessing is omitted and the distribution takes place immediately after the homily. The homily should conclude by inviting the sick person to prepare himself or herself for the reception of the ashes.

  1. Is Ash Wednesday a Holyday of Obligation?

No. There is no obligation to attend Mass.

However, Ash Wednesday is a penitential day and it (together with Good Friday) is one of two days of the year on which fasting and abstinence are required.

One More Thing . . . 

If I may be permitted a personal observation, Ash Wednesday is spiritual marketing genius.

Give away free stuff–on a limited time basis–and people will show up in droves.

No wonder Mass attendance soars on Ash Wednesday, even though it’s not a holyday of obligation.

Source: ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/9-things-to-know-and-share-about-ash-wednesday

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Reflection: The three core teachings of the gospel this Ash Wednesday is about Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting. Unlike our many facebook post (Pictures, comments, likes, etc…) wherein we tend to showoff so that our friends and many others will know who we are. We are being invited by Jesus to permanently veer away from this selfish mentality.

On the aspect of Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting, Jesus is inviting us to do these noble acts without letting everyone know about it. Let us do these acts privately and ensure that nobody will know about it. For if we do these hidden from the prying eyes of our friends and the public at large. We would then earn approval from Jesus and our names will now be forever etched in His heart. This is what Jesus would always want us to do for as long as we live: Do our noble acts hidden from anyone’s eye.

In the same breath, lent is also an invitation for us to reflect about our life, concerning the many sins that we have committed. Will we just let this sins remain or we will do something to erase our many sins (Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation)?

Our many sins pulls us farther away from God and if we are not careful we may live our life permanently away from the love of God. Do we want our life permanently cutoff from the love of God?  Of course not! Nobody wants to live his/her own life away from the love of God.

Therefore, let us take a deeper spiritual reflection about our life this lent. For we may be drifting farther away from the love and forgiveness of God. … (Marino J. Dasmarinas)

Source: mjdasma.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-reflection-for-ash-wednesday-march-5.html

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Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of our Lenten journey. Today you are in for a treat because this lesson is full of prophetic imagery and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies!

Today’s lesson covers 5 main topics:

  1. The Old Testament background that lays the foundation of the importance of Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem. The significance of the events during Holy Week is laid out in the history of the Old Testament Church.
  2. Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, and the various elements of Old Testament prophecy that are fulfilled in that event.
  3. Jesus throwing the money changers out of the Temple. He actually does this twice, two days consecutively. These events constitute His second and third cleansing of the Temple.
  4. Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree. This scene is rich in prophetic imagery that unfolds not only in the Old Testament prophetic literature but also throughout the Gospels.
  5. The chief priests and elders challenge to Jesus and Jesus’ response. Even though the events discussed in #3 and #4 alluded to the coming judgment against the Old Covenant leadership that were failing to produce good fruit, in the three parables of Jesus’ response to the chief priests and elders, that judgment and the shift of leadership to the New Covenant leadership that would be faithful to God and His Son becomes evident.

Today’s lesson can be found here:

Today’s picture portrays Jesus cleansing the Temple, a rather fitting picture to kick off this season of penance. For if we do not repent, confess our sins, do penance, and submit ourselves humbly to the will of God, we too will face God’s judgment.

We also want to bring to your attention that we have provided a Bible study covering the Scripture readings for today’s Ash Wednesday Mass. It can be found here:

And we have put together an overview of what you will encounter liturgically during the seasons of Lent and Easter and why you will encounter it. Consider it a guide to Lent & Easter. That document can be found here: agapebiblestudy.com/documents/LENT.htm

If you find our Bible studies spiritually edifying, then we ask that you re-gift our gift to you. Freely we have given to you so why not give freely what you have received to others (Matthew 10:7-8)? Please share this Bible study event with others… May this Lenten and Easter journey bring you closer in relationship to God, and may God bless and keep you!

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ASH WEDNESDAY ” Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.”
Gn. 3:19 Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. (Joel 2:13)

The liturgical use of ashes originated in the Old Testament times. Ashes symbolized mourning, mortality and penance. In the Book of Esther, Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes when he heard of the decree of King Ahasuerus to kill all of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire (Esther 4:1). Job repented in sackcloth and ashes (Job 42:6). Prophesying the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem, Daniel wrote, “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). Jesus made reference to ashes, “If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have reformed in sackcloth and ashes long ago” (Matthew 11:21). In the Middle Ages, the priest would bless the dying person with holy water, saying, “Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.”
The Church adapted the use of ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, when we remember our mortality and mourn for our sins. In our present liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we use ashes made from the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. The priest blesses the ashes and imposes them on the foreheads of the faithful, making the sign of the cross and saying, “Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

REFLECTION: As we begin our Lenten journey and prepare to follow the path of lent which will lead us to the solemn celebration of the central mystery of Faith, the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. I want to share this little and brief reflection with you all my brethren.

“He became poor, so that by His poverty you might be rich (cf.2 cor.8:9). This explains to us how God works. He does not reveal Himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty. What does the invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty mean for us today? Christ the eternal son of God, one with the Father in power and Glory chose to be poor, He came amongst us and drew near to each of us, He set aside His Glory and emptied Himself (cf. Phil.2:7, Heb 4:15). Gods becoming Man is a great mystery which has Love as its sole purpose. “Worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart, born of the Virgin Mary, He truly became one of us in all things except sin” (cf. Gaudium et spes, 22). By making Himself poor, Jesus did not seek poverty for its own sake but as Saint Paul says “That by His poverty you might become rich”. Yet St. Paul was fully aware of the “Unsearchable riches of Christ” (cf. Eph. 3:8), that He is “Heir of all things” (cf. Heb 1:2). What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of His Love. When Jesus asks us to take His ”Yoke which is easy”, He asks to be enriched by His poverty which is rich.

“What do you have that you did not receive’ ( cf. 1 cor 4:7). Lent is a return to the roots of our Faith, so that by pondering the measureless gift of Grace which is Redemption, we will not fail to fully understand that all has been given to us by Gods loving initiative and by His gratuity. The demand which follows this recognition is that of loving our brethren and dedicating ourselves to them. Jesus’ command vividly made explicit that “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax-collectors do the same? (cf. Matt. 5:46). Our world today puts on the lead human relationships based on self-interest and personal gain, and this fosters an egocentric vision of life, in which most often there is absolutely no room for the weak and poor.

Lent is a period in which the church calls us to prayer, fasting and alms-giving. Let us welcome and Love all people especially the weak, sick, poor, marginalized and exploited even the least gifted regardless of their qualities and defects, this should be the object of our practical Love. In this way, we become apostles of hope and builders of the civilization of Love.
Our love for God and neighbor should transcend mere words of mouth let us put them into concrete reality through our care and service for one another.

Therefore in the very Love God has for us, there lies the call to give ourselves freely to others in turn and therefore modify our life-style to suit the book of Genesis 3:19.

Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins — just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days’ penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession

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JUST BEFORE YOU RECEIVE THE ASH REFLECTION FOR ASH WEDNESDAY

Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

Back then in the major seminary, Wednesdays (including Sundays) were called “Walk days”. This means that seminarians are free to take a walk outside the seminary immediately after the lunch time; though they are expected to be back before 6.00 pm. On such walk days some seminarians briskly get into the town to do some needful things.

One of such days had remained memorable for many people. Emeka Iheazor a young seminarian went for walk on a fateful Wednesday but he never came back! He was unfortunately involved in ghastly motor accident. The gruesome carnage charred the bodies of the passengers in an inferno that reduced all to ash; it was indeed very difficult to identify the dead bodies. I remember that when families and friends of the victims got to the scene of the accident, they could only take handful of ash from the burning lot for burial. That was really a sort of “Ash Wednesday” as it reminded all of the fact that our body is reducible to ASH.

Today is the first day of Lent. The Ash Wednesday starts a period of forty days (excluding Sundays) resonating with the forty days our Lord Jesus Christ undertook a desert prayer/fast retreat programme as we can see in Matt. 4:1ff and Luke 4:1ff. It will be pertinent for us to understand what we are undertaking very well so that the ash we receive on our foreheads will match with our inner selves. Ash as a tangible material is the end product we receive after subjecting any material to intense burning by fire. This immediately suggests to us that however great a material is, no matter how beautiful and precious it may be, under intense burning by fire everything is reduced to ash, even human beings.

Ash thus reminds us of our nothingness! During the imposition of ash on our foreheads one of the forms used is: “Remember dust thou art and to dust thou shall return” (Gen.3:19). This realization is expected to prod us to attend to the second form used which says: “Repent and believe the Gospel”. In the Old Testament, ash was used to demonstrate penitence, self-abasement, self-abnegation and remorse for sins:

  • In the prophecy of Jeremiah we read: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in ashes.” (Jer.6:26).
  • In the book of Daniel (9:3) we read: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer with fasting sackcloth and ashes”.
  • When the King of Nineveh heard the oracle of Jonah he covered himself with sackcloth and sat on ashes. (Jonah 3:6).
  • During the time of Judith the people showed their repentance from sin by sprinkling ash on their heads (Judith 4:11).
  • Job decried: “Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”. (Job 42:6).
  • Mordecai reacted against the decree against the people of Israel by king Ahasuerus by tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth and sitting on ashes. (Esther 4:1).

In the New Testament our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed the utility of sackcloth and ash as paraphernalia for repentance (Matt. 11:21 & Luke 10:13):“Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

The Lenten period generally calls for repentance. During this time we are invited to do a turnaround in our lives. We are invited to make deep and active introspection and come out with renewed lives. The first reading from the prophet Joel (2:12-18) issues a convocation of the people inviting them for a radical change of heart and attitude in order to receive God’s blessings. The responsorial psalm begs God to have mercy on us on account of our sins. In the 2nd reading (1 Cor.5:20-6:2) St. Paul calls for our reconciliation with God as we have been ushered into a favourable time of salvation.

In the gospel reading our Lord Jesus Christ took time to explore the three important pillars of Lenten period namely: Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting / Abstinence. We shall be looking at these briefly:

  1. Almsgiving: This is a very important Christian virtue that connects us directly with God. When we give alms we represent and resemble God because it is in the character of God to give. Life is a typical example of God’s almsgiving to humanity. Whatever we have had been given to us by God and we in turn are expected to becomes alms that give to others. Jesus Christ gave us a direct command to this effect when he said: “Give and there shall be gifts for you a full measure pressed down shaken together, running over will be poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38). Our Lord also identified almsgiving as one of the preconditions for entrance into the kingdom of God (Matt. 25: 35-40). The salutary power of almsgiving was also established by St. Peter when he said that charity covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8-9).

It is indeed disheartening that our world is divided into two unequal parts: the world of the lavish rich and that of the abject poor. Everyday millions of people go to bed hungry while some other are throwing food away in the trash. This is the time we are expected to extend our alms to give to those who are in need and gain blessings for ourselves. Our old wears and discarded items can renew someone’s life some place.

  1. Prayer: Prayer is our communication gateway to God. Prayer is so important in our lives that when we stop praying we start perishing. Prayer presents us to God and God is consequently made present to us. Jesus Christ our redeemer did not only pray (Mk 1:35-36; Luke 6:12-13; John 17:1-26), he also taught how to pray (Luke 11:1-4) and even fervently (Luke 18:1ff). It is regrettable in our day and age that most people find prayer burdensome. We often have time for almost everything except prayer.
  2. Fasting / Abstinence: This Lenten practice is often misunderstood and ill-applied. Fasting and Abstinence have active connections. It is however recommended that we order them well so that we don’t relapse into mere devotionalism. It is pertinent to establish that food is not the only thing we can fast from. This period is auspicious enough for us to eschew our known bad habits and deny ourselves of those things we derive a lot of pleasure from and which are destructive of our spiritual and moral growth.

Most people are anticipating the Lenten period as it would avail them the chance to stay away from food and therefore get perfect physical shape while being inattentive to perfect spiritual shape. If outside the Lenten period I can comfortably go deep into the day without food without worries, how can fasting from food be of great benefit to me as a Lenten observance? It will be more appropriate for us to fast and abstain from sin than to pay attention to fasting from food when our hearts are connected with sin.

As we file out to receive the ash let be conscious of the fact that the ash we receive will not avail us anything if there is no substantial inner transformation. The ash is not some automatic sin washing detergent. It is basically an outward sign of the inner conviction of our sinfulness and our readiness to turn out better persons. Let us not be too conscious of the imposition of the ash as many people will be struggling and rushing after the ash, forgetting the needed transformation that should define our lives henceforth.

May God’s grace give us the consistency and resolve we need to pass through this Lenten period and come out better Christians who will rise with Christ with renewed and regenerated hearts. Have a wonderful Lenten period! Fr. Bonnie.

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Lay Catechism: What is Ash Wednesday and Lent?

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Named from the custom of signing the foreheads of the faithful with blessed ashes. Its date depends on the date of Easter. In the early Church, public penitents were liturgically admitted to begin their penance on this day. And when this fell into disuse, from the eighth to the tenth centuries, the general penance of the whole community took place. This was symbolized by the imposition of ashes on the heads of the clergy and laity alike.

The liturgical use of ashes originated in the Old Testament times. Ashes symbolized mourning, mortality and penance. In the Book of Esther, Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes when he heard of the decree of King Ahasuerus to kill all of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire (Esther 4:1). Job repented in sackcloth and ashes (Job 42:6). Prophesying the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem, Daniel wrote, “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). Jesus made reference to ashes, “If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have reformed in sackcloth and ashes long ago” (Matthew 11:21).

In the Middle Ages, the priest would bless the dying person with holy water, saying, “Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.” The Church adapted the use of ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, when we remember our mortality and mourn for our sins. In our present liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we use ashes made from the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. The priest blesses the ashes and imposes them on the foreheads of the faithful, making the sign of the cross and saying, “Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

Beyond fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence on every Friday during Lent, Catholics will often choose something to give up, or refrain from doing. While not strictly required, this is a good way to embrace the penitential character of the season.

Some people take this opportunity to overcome bad habits, like biting your nails, or smoking, or cursing. Others will give up something they enjoy (like ice cream, or television, or Facebook) in order to have a small sacrifice to offer to the Lord. Whatever you do during Lent to unite yourself to the “Suffering Servant” is a good and laudable thing. One should also keep in mind that Lent is just as much about taking on positive actions (like prayer, alms giving, works of mercy, etc.) then it is about the negative actions of avoiding things.

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Technology, particularly social media, has ushered in a culture of “SELF”. We post our opinions, our photos (selfie!), our whereabouts, even what we eat, the shows we’ve seen, how we feel. These 40 days of Lent also tells us to focus on the SELF, albeit on a different perspective. These 40 days of Lent, we are called to prepare the SELF into becoming more and more committed to the faith. These 40 days of Lent, Jesus reminds us of three disciplines: alms-giving (being SELF-less), praying (SELF-denial), and fasting (SELF-restraint). These 40 days of Lent, let us journey together as we prepare the SELF for Easter—a time of restoration, a time when we renew our baptismal vows and re-commit ourselves to our Lord Jesus Christ. (CFC)

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“Your Father who sees in secret….”  It is said that if you want to live forever you must do three things: Plant a tree, write a book and have a child. But what if somebody cuts down your tree? What if no one buys or read your book? What if your child denies or forgets you? That will be the end of your forever. The problem with these three things is that they are all for your ego, which will never live forever. Jesus said for us to live forever or be truly alive, we should PRAY faithfully to God, make SACRIFICES for others and SHARE with the poor. These are not for our ego but for others. God sees them and blesses us unto eternal life

“ Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Regie)

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PAPARATING NA NAMAN PO ANG ASH WEDNESDAY. ANG PASISIMULA NG PANAHON NG KUWARESMA (Lenten)

ANG PAGPAPAHID NG ABO SA ATING NOO AY PAALALA SA ATIN NA TAYO AY GINAWA NG DIYOS MULA SA ALABOK.

Genesis 2:7 Pagkatapos, GINAWA ng Panginoong Yahweh ANG TAO MULA SA ALABOK, hiningahan niya sa ilong, at nagkaroon ito ng buhay.

AT PAGKAT SA ALABOK TAYO NAGMULA, SA ALABOK DIN TAYO BABALIK

Genesis 3:19 sa pagod at pawis pagkain mo’y manggagaling maghihirap ka hanggang sa malibing. DHIL SA ALABOK, DOON KA NANGGALING, SA LUPANG ALABOK.AY BABALIK KA RIN.”

ANG PANAHON NG KWARESMA AY PANAHON NG PAGGUNITA SA SAKRIPISYO NA IBINIGAY NG ATING PANGINOONG JESUS SA KANYANG PAGPAKASAKIT AT KAMATAYAN SA KRUS PARA SA KATUBUSAN NG ATING MGA KASALANAN.

TANONG: “Biblical ba ang pagpapahid ng abo?”

SAGOT: OPO! NAPAKA BIBLICAL… PAKIBASA ITO PARA SA KARAGDAGAN PANG KAALAMAN.

******

REPOST FROM: Kuya Adviser Apologetic List

PAGPAPAHID NG ABO, FASTING AND ABSTINENCE.. HINDI BA BIBLICAL?

BY: Kuya adviser CFD

ISA SA TINUTULIGSA NG MGA INC, ADD AT IBANG SEKTA NA IMBENTO LANG DAW NG MGA PARI ANG PAGPAPAHID NG ABO.. AT HINDI DAW BIBLICAL ITO, ISA NANAMANG PANGHUHUSGA ANG IBINABATO SA SIMBAHANG KATOLIKO. NAGPAPTUNAY SA KANILANG KAKULANGAN SA KAALAMAN SA BIBLIYA AT ISA NANAMAN KASO NG PANGHUHUSGA SA PANINIWALANG KATOLIKO

ANG PAGPAPAHID NG ABO SA ULO AY KINAGAWIAN NA NG MGA TAGASUNOD NG DIYOS NG MATAGAL NG PANAHAON AT DALA DALA NATIN MGA KATOLIKO .. SIMBOLO NG PAGSISI AT PAGDADALAMHATI SA PAGKAMATAY NG PANGINOONG HESUS SA KRUS..

SINASABI SA BIBLIYA NA ANG MGA HUDYO NA NAGSISI AT NAGLULUKSA AY NAGLALAGAY NG ABO SA KANILANG NOO PARA IPAKITA ANG KANILANG PAGLULUKSA SA DIYOS…

MALINAW DIN NA SINASABI NG BIBLIYA NA ANG PAGPAPAHID NG ABO SA NOO AY PAGPAPAKITA NG MADALAMHATING PAGSISI SA “PAGKAKASALA” AT “PAGKAKAMALI”

ANG GANITONG KINAGAWIAN AY DALA DALA NG SIMBAHANG KATOLIKO .. NA PAGPAPAHID NG ABO SA MGA ULO PARA SA PAGPAPAKITA NG PAGLULUKSA SA PAGPAPAHIRAP AT PAGKAMATAY NG PANGINOONG HESUS..

*********BIBLICAL BASIS*******

SA BIBLIYA ANG PAGLALAGAY NG ABO AY GINAGAWA NG MGA HUDYOS UPANG MAGDALAMHATI O’ MAG LUKSA SA DIYOS…

(2 SAMUEL 13:19) “At BINUBUHUSAN ni Thamar NG MGA ABO ang kaniyang ULO, at hinapak ang kaniyang suot na sarisaring kulay na nakasuot sa kaniya; at kaniyang ipinatong ang kaniyang kamay sa kaniyang ulo, at ipinagpatuloy ang kaniyang lakad, na NA UMIIYAK NG MALAKAS habang siya’y yumayaon.”

***

SEE.. SI THAMAR AY NAGPAPAKITA NG PAGDADALAMHATI SA DIYOS, PAGPAPAKITA NG KABABAAN NG LOOB ANG PAGPAPAHID NG ABO SA ULO, HINUBAD NIYA ANG KANYANG SARILI HABANG LUMALAKAD NG HUMAHAGULGOL SA IYAK.. PARA IPAKITA SA DIYOS ANG PAGDADALAMHATI NIYA O’ PAGSUSUMAMO SA DIYOS

ETO PA..

(LUCAS 10:13) “Sa aba mo, Corazin! sa aba mo, Betsaida! sapagka’t kung sa Tiro at sa Sidon sana ginawa ang mga gawang makapangyarihang ginawa sa inyo, ay maluwat na DISING NANGAGSISI na nangauupong may kayong magaspang AT ABO. ”

***

KITA NIYO PO?.. ANG PAGSISI O’ PAGPAPAKITA NG PAGSISI SA PAGKAKAMALI AY KINAGAWIAN NA MAG LAGAY NG ABO PARA IPAKITA SA DIYOS ANG KANILANG KABABAN NG LOOB

ETO PA..

(ESTHER 4:1,3) “Nang maalaman nga ni Mardocheo ang lahat na nagawa, HINAPAK ni Mardocheo ang kaniyang suot, at nanamit ng kayong magaspang na may MGA ABO
….At sa bawa’t lalawigan, na kinararatingan ng utos ng hari at ng kaniyang pasiya, ay nagkaroon ng malakas na panangisan sa gitna ng mga Judio, at ng PAGAAYUNO, at ng IYAKAN at ng TAGHUYAN; at marami ay nagsipanamit ng kayong magaspang at mga ABO.”

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KAYA NAMAN ANG PAGAAYUNO NA GINAGAWA NATIN “DISIPLINA” TUWING HOLY WEEK, AT PAGPAPAHID NG ABO SA ULO, PANALANGIN.. ETC… AY KINAGAWIAN NATIN PARA MAG PAKITA NG PAGLULUKSA O’ PAGDADALAMHATING PAGSISI SA DIYOS

(DANIEL 9:3) “At aking itiningin ang aking mukha sa Panginoong Dios upang humanap sa pamamagitan ng PANALANGIN at ng mga samo, ng PAGAAYUNO, at pananamit ng MAGASPANG, at ng MGA ABO”

AT ISA PA DITO ANG KWENTO NI JOB.. NA KUNGSAAN SINUBOK SIYA NG DIYOS.. NAWALA ANG LAHAT NG BAGAY SA KANYA, KATULAD NG ARI-ARIAN, BAHAY, TANIMAN, HAYOP, PAMILYA NGUNIT SA KABILA NG KANIYANG MATINDING PAGHIHIRAP.. AY HINUBAD NIYA ANG KANYANG DAMIT NAG PATIRAPA SA LUPA AT NAGPAHID NG ABO AT NAGPURI SA DIYOS..

(JOB 2:13) “At nang kanilang itanaw ang kanilang mga mata mula sa malayo, at hindi siya makilala, kanilang inilakas ang kanilang tinig, at nagsiiyak at hinapak ng bawa’t isa sa kanila ang kanikaniyang balabal, at NAGBUHOS NG ALABOK SA KANYANG ULO sa dakong langit.”

SEE.. MALINAW NA GINAWA RIN NI JOB ANG PAGLALAGAY NG ABO SA ULO UPANG IPAKITA ANG KANYANG PAGDADALAMHATI SA DIYOS

KAYA TUWING ASH WEDNESDAY AY NAGDADALAMAHATI TAYO AT GINUGUNITA NATING MGA KATOLIKO ANG PAGPAPAHIRAP SA PANGINOONG HESUS AT ATING IPINAPAKITA ANG ATING PAGLULUKSA O’ PAGSUSUMAMO NATIN SA DIYOS.. IPINAPAKITA DIN NATIN SA PAGPAPAHID NG ABO SA ULO ANG ATING PAGSISI SA ATING MGA KASALANAN NAGAWA SA DIYOS

****FASTING AND ABSTINENCE****

GAYA NG BINASA NATIN SA TAAS ANG MGA NAGLULUKSA AY NAGAAYUNO NA MABABASA NATIN SA DANIEL 9:3.. ANG FASTING O’ PAGAAYUNO AY ISANG DISIPLINA NA ISINASAGAWA SA BIBLIYA NA MAKIKITA SA OLD AT SA NEW TESTAMENT..

SI KRISTO INAASAHAN NIYA NA ANG KANYANG MGA DISIPULO AY MAG AAYUNO

(MATEO 9:14-15) “Nang magkagayo’y nagsilapit sa kaniya ang mga alagad ni Juan, na nangagsabi, Bakit kami at ang mga Fariseo ay NANGAGAAYUNO madalas, datapuwa’t hindi NANGAGAAYUNO ang mga alagad mo?

At sinabi sa kanila ni Jesus, Mangyayari bagang MANGAGLUKSA ang mga abay sa KASALANAN, samantalang ang kasintahang lalake ay kasama nila? datapuwa’t darating ang mga araw, na ang kasintahang lalake ay aalisin sa kanila, at kung magkagayo’y MANGAGAAYUNO sila.

AT TINURUAN NI KRISTO ANG KANYANG MGA ALAGAD KUNG PAANO MAGAYUNO NG TAMA AT KALUGOD LUGOD SA DIYOS

(MATEO 6:16-18) “Bukod dito, pagka kayo’y nangagaayuno, ay HUWAG KAYONG GAYA NG MGA MAPAGPAIMBABAW, na may mapapanglaw na mukha: sapagka’t kanilang pinasasama ang mga mukha nila, upang makita ng mga tao na sila’y nangagaayuno. Katotohanang sinasabi ko sa inyo, Tinanggap na nila ang sa kanila’y ganti.

Datapuwa’t ikaw, sa pagaayuno mo, ay LANGISAN MO ANG IYONG ULO, at hilamusan mo ang iyong mukha; Upang huwag kang makita ng mga tao na ikaw ay NAGAAYUNO, kundi ng Ama mo na nasa lihim: at ang Ama mo, na nakakikita sa lihim, ay gagantihin ka.”

******

ABSTINENCE O’ ABSTINENSIYA AY ISANG BIBLICAL DISCIPLINE DIN NA MABABASA NATIN SA (DANIEL 10:2-3) “Nang mga araw na yao’y akong si Daniel ay NANANGIS na tatlong BUONG SANGLINGGO. HINDI AKO KUMAIN NG MASARAP NA TINAPAY, ni pumasok man ang KARNE ni ALAK man sa aking BIBIG, ni naglangis man ako, hanggang sa natapos ang TATLONG BUONGSANGLINGGO.”

ANG KINAGAWIAN NI DANIEL GANUN DIN NA GINAGAWA NATING MGA KATOLIKO SA PAGUGUNITA SA HOLY WEEK SA PAGPAGKAKAPAKO NI HESUS SA KRUS.. KAYA UMIIWAS TAYO SA MGA KARNE DURING LENT .. NA GAYA NG GINAGAWA NI DANIEL SA ARAW NA IYON.. ANG TANIGN KARNE NA KINAKAIN SA ARAW NA IYO AY ISDA NA SUMISIMBOLO KAY HESUS

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DONOR FATIGUE – “when you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you…” – Matthew 6:2

At the wake of killer typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, media as well as various organizations called for donations for relief and rehabilitation of the victims.

My friend belongs to various organizations that solicited donations, so she gave in cash and in kind to all of them. Four weeks after the calamity, she said, “I am already experiencing donor fatigue!”

Donor fatigue happens when a person who has given to charities gets tired of giving, or when an organization known for helping the needy slows down in responding to calls for donations.

My friend, however, wasn’t really suffering from donor fatigue. She was actually glowing with happiness as she had been able to give all she could to the victims of the worst disaster ever to hit our country.

I asked her, “How much have you given so far?”

“Secret,” she grinned, from ear to ear.

She’s been reading the Bible, so I knew she was referring to today’s Gospel exhortation: If you are to give to the needy, do it in secret. Cynthia U. Santiago (cusantiago@gmail.com)

Reflection: It’s Ash Wednesday — a time to reflect on our motivations for responding to the cries of the less fortunate.

Lord, this Lenten season, cleanse me, change me, that I may love You and Your people without condition.

Source: kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2015-02-18

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THE FASTING THAT COUNTS – Allow me to share with you a message my friend posted on Facebook some time ago. It was for his daughter on her 25th birthday. But for the purpose of privacy, I will leave out their names. Here it is:

Today, I celebrate a quarter of a century of clean lungs.

When my eldest daughter was born exactly 25 years ago, I knew it was time to stub out my last cigarette and keep myself alive and healthy so I can be a good father to her for many years. I thank her for this gift, and I thank God and everyone who was supportive of my smoking cessation, making my continued healthy existence possible.

Happy Birthday!

My friend has been smoke-free for 25 years. He kicked the habit not for his own sake. He avoided it for the love of his daughter. I find that very meaningful. I have a lot of friends who swear that kicking that habit is the most difficult thing to do. But I guess when you have a motivation that is greater than yourself, it becomes easier.

It is Ash Wednesday once again. We enter the season of Lent — 40 days of intense penance and sacrifice in preparation for Holy Week. We sacrifice not for sacrifice’s sake. The suffering and pain that accompany our sacrifices do not make our sacrifices holy. What makes them holy is the love that motivates them — like the willingness of a father to deny himself of a beloved addiction so as to be alive and healthy for his daughter.

Are you planning to make some sacrifices and penance this Lent? Remember to put love at the heart of those penances. Our God is not a sadist. Pain for pain’s sake does not please Him. But pain borne out of love does. For when suffering is borne out of love, we become more like Him. Fr. Joel Jason

REFLECTION QUESTION: This Lent, do not just give up something. Give it up for someone.

“Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord your God.” Amen.

Source: kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2015-02-18

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ASH WEDNESDAY (YEAR B) – MATEO 6:1-6, 16-18. Unsa man ang gisugdan sa Mierkoles Badlis? Ang Mierkoles Badlis mao ang pinakaunang adlaw sa Kwaresma, ang panahon sa Liturhikanhong Kalendaryo sa Simbahan kanus-a kita mag-andam sa umaabot nga kasaulogan sa misteryo sa pagpasakit, kamatayon ug pagkabanhaw ni Kristo. Tulo ka butang ang angay natong buhaton ning panahona. Una mao ang pagbasol sa mga sala. Ang Dios nga labing maloloy-on magpasaylo kanato kon kita mapaubsanon ug matinud-anon sa atong paghinulsol. Ikaduha mao ang pagsakripisyo. Pinaagi niini atong madisiplina ang lawasnong kailibgon ug mapalig-on ang espirituhanong kinabuhi. Ug ikatulo mao ang paghatag og limos. Sa atong pagtabang sa mga nanginahanglan, atong gipakita ang atong gugma sa Dios nga nakighiusa sa mga kabos. Posted by Abet Uy

Source: abetuy.blogspot.com/2015/02/ash-wednesday-year-b.html

(English) ASH WEDNESDAY (YEAR B) Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18. What began on Ash Wednesday? Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the period of the liturgical calendar of the Church when we prepare for the upcoming celebration of the mystery of suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. Three things we need to do this time. First is to blame sins. God is most merciful forgive us if we are humble and faithful in our repentance. Second is the sacrifice. Through our discipline sensual desires and strengthen the spiritual life. And the third is to give alms. We help those in need, we show our love for God solidarity with the poor. Posted by Abet Uy

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

ASH WEDNESDAY (C)

Jl 2:12-18; 2 Cor 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Today is the beginning of the season of Lent, which will culminate during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. We call this day “Ash Wednesday” because, traditionally, we do during the Mass the blessing and giving of ashes. This penitential rite reminds us, in a symbolic manner, of our frail, limited human nature and of our great need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. As the minister imposes the ashes on our foreheads, he says either one of the two formulas: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel” (Mk 1:15) or “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return (cf. Gen 3:19).

Lent is a 40-day penitential season, but it is not all about human sinfulness. In fact, during this season, the Church would like us to reflect on the unmerited benevolence of God. Our prayer and reflection would reach its climax during the celebration of the paschal mystery of Christ our Lord. By then we will be reminded that God has loved us so much to the point of allowing His only Son to die on the cross in order to save us from death which is the effect of sin. The Lord’s resurrection will renew our hope that someday we all will share eternal life with God in heaven.

The season of Lent provides us with the special opportunity to respond positively to God’s gratuitous offer of love and forgiveness. The first reading reminds us that God “is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness and ready to relent” (Joel 2:13). In the second reading, Saint Paul appeals that we be reconciled to God because He has already done His part. God in Jesus has entered the sinful human condition in order to help us rediscover the beautiful image that we lost by sinning. The favorable time of salvation is already now, not later. God wants us to leave sin behind and to start walking in His ways.

The gospel mentions three traditional practices of the Lenten season, namely: almsgiving, fasting and prayer. These three are not mere external penitential requirements; rather, they are meant to usher us towards living fully the Christian life.

When we give alms, we are reminded that the goods of the earth are meant for all humanity to enjoy. How conscious are we of the presence of so many poor, hungry, sick people around us? By sharing generously and unconditionally our possessions, we can be the Good Samaritan that Jesus wanted us to become for others.

When we fast, we learn to discipline our natural appetite and desires. Often, we easily give in to our selfish cravings for non-essential things of the world, things that do not truly contribute to our total nourishment and well-being. Naturally, when we deny ourselves of some things, we also save some money. Our fasting becomes more meaningful when we give what we have saved to the poor and the needy.

When we pray intensely and heartily, we become more and more sensitive to the will of God in our lives. Particularly, during the Lenten season, God wants to create a pure heart in us and to renew within us a steadfast spirit. Let us then open our hearts to God’s grace and begin to follow the way of Jesus Christ our Lord! Posted by Abet Uy

Source: http://www.abetuy.blogspot.com/2016/02/ash-wednesday-c.html

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ASH WEDNESDAY

Joel 2:12-18; 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Change

Now Barack Obama is the President of America for the second time. But when he contested elections for the first time in 2004, the people thought he will lose the election. The critics had given few reasons for it. First of all he was an African-American, then he had questionable Muslim lineage. He, during his elections had confessed that he had a ‘confused’ childhood and used drugs like marijuana and cocaine to be at peace. In spite of all these adverse factors, he won the election and became the President of America, and that too two times. What made him acceptable to the people that he gave them a call to ‘change.’ He convinced them that there has to be a change. A change must happen in the society, in the government and in the nation. People accepted his call.

Today, the Catholic Church too is giving us a call for ‘change’ – a change in our personal life, a change in our family life and a change in our societal life. A change in the life of people is all what God wanted from the chosen people. Going through the pages of Sacred Scripture, we don’t see God asking people neither sacrifices and holocausts, nor precious offering but the ‘change’; change in the behaviour, change in their attitudes, change in their relationship to one another.

What would be according to you the most important verse from bible? The answer, according to Fulton J sheen, is Mk  1:15;  Change yourself because the kingdom is near. The Greek word used for ‘change’ is Metanoiah – One may translate it as repentance, conversion, change of heart, and so on. But what is important is the ‘change in oneself’. For Sheen, this message of change is the message of Bible. That is why Jesus started his ministry by asking for the change.  According to St. Mark, Jesus didn’t prefer to start his ministry by performing any miracle, or by placing the Sermon on the Mount, or not even by washing of the feet. He simple began his ministry by asking people to have the change in their life.

Today, the Church begins the Lenten season by inviting us to have this change. The Lent is a preparation to celebrate the Paschal mysteries of Jesus. In that process one will have shouts of Hosanna on Palm Sunday, will journey with Jesus to Calvary on the Good Friday and will sing Gloria on the Easter Day. But, unless and until one is not ready to change oneself, then what meaning is there for these paschal mysteries in one’s life. They won’t have any effect on one’s life. It will be like throwing the precious stones in front of a particular kind of animals as Bible says. Therefore the change is inevitable.

The change in life must start with the change of heart. In his instructions Jesus had clarified the Laws of purity. According to Jesus, ‘what comes from inside makes the person pure or impure.’ Therefore the change too must start from within. It should begin with our thinking. The attitude we have towards ourselves and towards others must be changed first so that there will be change in our lives.

The change must be supported with change of actions. Suppose a drunkard husband who beats his wife regularly has a change of heart in this Lenten season. Merely making a confession of his mistakes won’t make his change of heart complete, not even by writing of it in his personal diary. But he must act accordingly, even by giving a hug to his dear wife. Each one must find out ways to substantiate the change of heart one has begun to experience in this Lenten season.

The change must be enjoyed. Very often we fail to continue in our changed life as we don’t enjoy the change. We, at least in our subconscious mind, still enjoy the life that we lead before we embraced the change. Almost all the drunkards are willing to have a change and many have attempted the change in the Holy week at least. But once they start to think of the enjoyments they had while taking alcohol they fail in their ‘new’ life. It will be like the Israelites who complained of ‘onion and dried meet they had in Egypt’. The Israelites had a change from slavery to freedom. But they made their life miserable by thinking of the enjoyments they had in Egypt. The Church has given us such a long period of forty days as Lent so that we have the change in life and may enjoy it by taking actions corresponding to this change.

Let us embrace the change. Change the way that we think of others. Change the way that we behave with our family people. Change the way we move with the people in the society; the parishioners, the colleagues at working place, the neighbours. We need change. Because, as today’s second reading says, ‘this is the acceptable time and now is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2).’ Fr. Johnson Bezalel CMI

Source: http://navchetana.com/web/homilies.php?date=2016-02-10

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February 10, 2016

REFLECTION: Today’s gospel reading is taken from Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, what has been called the Magna Carta or Basic Charter of Christianity—a unique document in the history of mankind.

Now in this same Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said earlier: “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and may glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:16). But now he says: “Do not show your good deeds,” especially when you give alms, pray or fast (the three traditional “good works” in Israel). Is Jesus contradicting himself here?

Not if we take into consideration a person’s intention. He condemns those who act “in order to be praised… in order to be seen… so that people can see.” The intention of a given action is, according to moral theologians, what specifies the moral quality of an action and ultimately makes it good or bad in the eyes of God. A terrorist who blows up people and himself with them in a suicide bombing thinks he is pleasing Allah by this horrible action. Yet, as long as his intention is pure, he does indeed please God and goes straight to heaven.

Why do we perform this or that good action? To impress the gallery or simply to please God? If it is to please God, then, by all means, let it shine before people and glorify God!

CLARETIAN COMMUNICATIONS FOUNDATION, INC.

8 Mayumi Street, U.P. Village, Diliman, 1101 Quezon City, Philippines

Tel.: (02) 921-3984, 922-9806 • Fax: (02) 921-6205

Source: schoolofthewordonline.com/scriptural-library/daily-gospel/english/item/3439-february-10-2016

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Ash Wednesday

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