Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart ...
 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;
gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged;
gather the children, even infants at the breast. Joel 2:12+ 
    "Give me, good Lord, a full faith and a fervent charity, a love of You, good Lord, incomparably above the love of myself; and that I love nothing that displeases You but everything for the sake of You.

    Take from me, good Lord, this lukewarm -- or rather cold-hearted -- way of meditation and this dullness in praying to You.  And give me warmth, delight, and life in thinking of You. 

    And give me grace to long for Your holy Sacraments, and specifically to rejoice in the presence of Your Blessed Body, sweet Savior Christ, in the holy Sacrament of the altar, and duly to thank You for Your precious visitation through it; and at that high Memorial, may I have grace to remember and consider Your most bitter passion with tender compassion."

St. Thomas More

*Ash Wednesday is solemnly observed by the Church to mark the beginning of the forty days of penance in the Lenten season. The faithful who attends the Mass on this day will be marked on the forehead with a CROSS of ASHES as a sign of conversion, penance, fasting and human mortality.

The marking of the forehead with a cross made of ashes reminds each that (1) God made the first human being by breathing life into dust, and without God, human beings are nothing more than dust and ashes, (2) the phrases often used when the ashes are administered remind Christians of the doctrine of original sin and (3) the cross of ashes may symbolize the way Christ's sacrifice on the cross as atonement for sin replaces the Old Testament tradition of making burnt offerings to atone for sin.

As the ashes are being administered, the priest utters one of the following phrases:
    "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."
    "Remember (O man) that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return."
    "Repent, and hear the good news."

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him;
and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12
During Lent, we are called to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. They are the "three-fold cord" spoken of in Ecclesiastes 4:12. Satan will not prevail against us if we follow Christ's call to use this three-fold cord as a basis for our Christian walk.

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