Homily – Ash Wednesday MMX 2/17/10

Homily – Ash Wednesday MMX 2/17/10

Today’s observance of Ash Wednesday has a two-fold meaning, both of which are equally important.

The first meaning is that Ash Wednesday is kind of the Christian “Day of Atonement”.

It is the day when not only as individuals, but more importantly when we as a People, as a Church, beg God to pardon us for the many sins we have committed and for our failure to do what was good and just over the past year.

Throughout the world, in the countries of Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and South America, Christians today put aside all festivity and merry making, and together we fast and abstain from meat as we cover our foreheads with ashes and say with one voice “Parce Domine” — Spare O Lord your people, Do not let us die in our sins for we are crying out to you.

Together, in union with our Holy Father, the Church on earth begs God forgiveness for our sins of pride and lukewarmness which have hindered us from doing God’s will.

We beg God forgiveness for our sins of greed and materialism which have contributed to the global economic crisis our world is in.

We ask God to forgive all those in authority especially our Church and Civil leaders, for their neglect of duty in so many ways, and we ask God to forgive us for our failure to pray and fast enough for those who lead us.

And finally we ask God to pardon us for our many personal and collective sins of commission and omission which have contributed to the evils our world today faces: especially the exploitation of the poor, the abuse and corruption of the young, the killing of innocent human life, the breakdown of Marriage and the Family, and the abuse of the goods of the earth God has entrusted to us.

We do all this on Ash Wednesday as a Church, so that the words of the prophet Joel will be fulfilled for us: Then the LORD was stirred to concern for His land and took pity on His people.

We begin Lent by crying out “Forgive us Lord!” so that at the end of Lent, on Good Friday, we might hear Jesus from the Cross say “I do forgive you, see how much I love and forgive you!”

But there is also a second meaning to Ash Wednesday. Not only is Ash Wednesday a Day of Atonement for past sin, it is also a Day of Grace for future virtue.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. St. Paul reminds us in the second reading.

For Ash Wednesday is the First Day of the 40 Day Season of Lent, a very acceptable time to really grow in our Faith, to really grow in love for God and one another.

Ash Wednesday is kind of like the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games.  For the next Forty Days we will compete against our three-fold adversary, the world the flesh and the devil, for the Gold Medal in holiness as we give Jesus the best we can offer Him, praying, fasting and giving alms to the best of our ability.

May we make concrete, practical resolutions to give up eating or doing something we really like, so show Jesus we love Him more.

May we be more generous in giving alms to the poor, giving not only from our surplus but also from our need.

And lastly may we take advantage of the many opportunities for growing in our prayer life during Lent.

Getting to daily Mass or at least meditating daily on the ancient Mass readings is highly recommended, as is doing the Stations of the Cross on Fridays in Lent, which we’ll have every Friday at Noon.

Making a good confession is also a good Lenten practice, especially if you haven’t been in a while. We will again this Lent have All Day Confessions Saturday March 13, for seven and a half hours, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 2 to 4 priests will be in the confessionals ready to give you Jesus’ peace and forgiveness.

So we thank God for the grace of Repentance. May He pardon our wickedness on this day we cry out to Him for Mercy, and give us the grace to spend these next forty days growing in our faith as we journey to the Cross and to Easter Sunday with our Blessed Lord Jesus.

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