Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Last year:

So far, my Lenten commitments are coming along very well (and some of them were very serious!) How are yours coming? I wanted to share something that I found about how some of the early Christians celebrated Lent. It seems that during the early Centuries of the Church, those who were guilty of public sin would come before the Bishop and have the ashes put on their head. The Bishop would then throw them out of the Church for 40 days as a sign of their penance. After the 40 days, on Easter, they were brought back into the fold. As this was going on, many Christians began to think about their own lives and even those who had no public sin came forward to get ashes, because they realized we were all sinners and needed the time of mourning and forgiveness. I think this is a beautiful story about the need for humility among all of us. 

"Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris."

In other news, Lent is a time to pray especially for those preparing for baptism, confirmation and first Eucharist. Let's pray for those who will be baptized especially, but also keep those preparing for confirmation in our minds as well, wink wink.

I don't have much to add on to what I said last year.  Just keep on praying for those getting ready to receive these sacraments for the first time.  Yesterday in the daily Office of Readings, there was a reading from Pope Saint Leo the Great.  I'd just like to share part of his Lenten reflections today:

Dear friends,what the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.  

There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual fasting than that of almsgiving.  This embraces under the single name of mercy many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of all the faithful may be of equal value, even where their means are not.  The love that we owe both God and man is always free from any obstacle that would prevent us from having a good intention.  The angels sang "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on Earth."  The person who shows love and compassion to those in any kind of affliction is blessed, not only with the virtue of good will but also with the gift of peace.

So, let's not forget that Lent is a season not just to give up things for our own benefit, but also a season of charity in which we should give to those who are less fortunate than we.  

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