Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

These forty days of Lent, O Lord, with you we fast and pray;
Teach us to discipline our wills and follow Lord your way.
(These Forty Days of Lent, (c) 1970 WLP)

I don't know what I'm "giving up" for Lent this year. I try to fast and abstain from meat on Fridays, and today of course, though physical limitations sometimes interfere.  I tried to give up coffee a couple years ago and actually made it past the initial headaches, but when the foggy haze refused to lift, I caved in.  That took about 2 weeks.  One year I gave up chocolate, successfully, but right now that just seems like too much torture to endure again.  The last couple years I have worked on certain character defects, but now this has become habit, and I think I should embark upon something new and difficult.

Our pastor emphasized prayer, fasting and abstinence in his homily today.  Making time to pray no matter how busy we are.  

Fasting - what can I forego, in solidarity with Jesus' suffering?  Maybe a day to day decision - a meal, another gadget, a movie.  Put the money saved where it will help someone else.

Abstinence - no meat on Fridays is easy, we already have 2 or 3 meatless days a week.  To abstain from negative remarks in conversation - that can be hard.  To abstain from gossip, even when it's just "reporting the facts", that's challenging. 

Now that we have been marked with the ashes of last year's Palm Sunday palms, it is time to inwardly clean house and declutter our lives to become better bearers of the gospel.  As St. Paul says to the Corinthians in today's second reading:  "We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through reconciled to God...Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation".

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