February 18, 2015

Ash Wed.

February 18, 2015:  Ash Wednesday

  • Forehead with ashes—thanks, guest dresser Lourdes):  "remember you're dust and will return to dust; turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel" (distribution of ashes at Ash Wednesday liturgy)
  • 'Hearts' suspenders:  "rend your hearts"; "return to me with your whole heart" (1st reading); "create for me a clean heart" (psalm)
  • 'Angel with trumpet' pin:  "blow the trumpet" (1st reading); "don't blow a trumpet" (gospel)
  • 'Clock' tie bar:  "in an acceptable time I heard you.... Now is the acceptable time..." (2nd reading)
  • 'Hands' tie:  "when you give, don't let your left hand know what the right is doing" (gospel)
  • 'Kneeling person' tie bar:  "go to your inner room and pray in secret" (gospel)
  • Purple shirt:  Lenten season

Pope Francis
Lenten message:  Make your hearts firm:  (part 1 of 4)  Lent is a time of grace, a time of renewal for the Church, communities, and every believer.  God doesn't ask anything that he hasn't first given. “We love because he first has loved us.”  He's not aloof; each of us has a place in his heart.  He knows us by name, cares for us, and seeks us out when we turn from him.  His love doesn't let him be indifferent to what happens to us.  When we're comfortable, our heart can grow cold and we can forget those less well off and not be unconcerned about their problems, sufferings and injustices they endure.  This indifference has taken on global proportions; we need to confront it.  Here I'll address the globalization of indifference.  Indifference to our neighbor and God is a real temptation.  We need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who trouble our conscience.
God isn't indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In his Incarnation, life, death, and resurrection, the gate between heaven and earth opens.  The Church is like the hand holding the gate open, proclaiming God’s word, celebrating the sacraments, and witnessing faith working through love.  The world withdraws and shuts the door, so the hand, the Church, must never be surprised when rejected, crushed, and wounded.  We need renewal lest we become indifferent and withdraw.
Audience:  Brothers and sisters.  Christianity loves the words 'brother' and 'sister,'  and, thanks to family experience, everyone understands them.  The fraternal bond has a special place in salvation history; the psalmist sings of its beauty:  "How good, how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!"  Jesus brought the experience of being brothers and sisters to fulfillment, assimilating it into Trinitarian love and strengthening it so it goes beyond kinship and can overcome every obstacle of estrangement.  When the fraternal relationship is ruined, conflict, betrayal, and hatred can ensue.  God keeps asking us about our brother, and we unfortunately repeat Cain's "Am I my brother's keeper?"
The bond of brotherhood formed in an family climate open to others, is the great school of freedom and peace.  The blessing God in Christ poured out on this bond expands it, enabling it to overcome all differences.  History has shown that freedom and equality without brotherhood become full of individualism and personal interest.
Brotherhood is particularly illuminating when we see the care, patience, affection with which the weaker, sick, or disabled is surrounded, and when one helps parents take care of the kids.  Having a brother or sister who loves you is powerful, priceless, and irreplaceable.  Christian brotherhood is similar:  the weak and poor must provoke our tenderness; they have the "right."  They're our brothers and sisters to love; when they're part of our family, our Christian brotherhood comes back to life.  Only when brotherhood is at the heart of society will there be true freedom and equality.
  • Jl 2:12-18  Return to me with fasting and weeping; rend your hearts.  The Lord is gracious, merciful, kind, and relenting.  Proclaim a fast; gather the people; say, “Lord, spare your people, and don't make your heritage a reproach.”  Then the Lord took pity.
  • Ps 51:3-6ab, 12-14, 17  "Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned."  I acknowledge my offense.  Create a clean heart for me.  Don't cast me out from your presence.  Give me back the joy of your salvation.  Open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
    Wordle: Readings 2-18-15
  • 2 Cor 5:20-6:2  We're ambassadors for Christ.  Be reconciled to God who made Jesus who didn't know sin to be sin, so we might become God's righteousness.  Now is a very acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.
  • Mt 6:1-6, 16-18  “Don't do righteous deeds so that people see them.  When you give alms, pray, or fast, don't call attention to it like hypocrites do.  Do it in secret; your Father will see and repay you.”
  • Creighton:  Ash Wednesday reminds us of life's fragility and that we're not at our permanent dwelling place.  It's a time to reflect on our relationship with God who loves us so much he sent his son to save us.  Our reflection can teach us how to interact with others.  Pope Francis warns us about “global indifference,” the enemy of the engaged service we're called to.  How can I be more aligned with God’s goodness and imitate Christ better?  I'm called to serve others; there's no “indifference” in looking out for the needy.
  • One Bread One Body:  "Home alone":  As essential as communal life is, there's the danger of going with the crowd; we must go with the Lord from our personal commitment....
  • Passionist:  "Come back to me with all your heart."  God is full of mercy and forgiveness and wants us to have a life of authenticity, integrity, and belonging.  It's easy to perform for the crowd, our satisfaction, and shallow praise, selling out our deep needs only our relationship with God can satisfy.  We can be distracted till we rest in God.  Jesus gives us an inner compass, the Spirit's promptings.  May we give alms not to win praise but to imitate Jesus and his option for the poor.  May we pray not to be seen as holy but to be in communion with God.  May we fast not to attract attention but to overcome basic, self-centered desires.  May our Lenten practice be an outward sign of our inner desire to grow into the person God sees.
  • DailyScripture.net:  God wants to set us ablaze so we'll radiate gospel joy.  St. Augustine:  there are two kinds of people and love: "One is holy, the other selfish; one subject to God, the other trying to equal him."  We are what we love.  God wants to free our hearts from captivity to selfishness and sin. "Rend your hearts, not garments."  The Spirit is ready to transform us and lead us in God's way.  Jews considered prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as key works.  Jesus:  do them to glorify God, not draw attention to yourself.  St. Augustine:  When I'm united to you, there will be no more sorrows or trials; full of you, my life will be complete.
40 in Scripture:  Moses' days of prayer and fasting, Israel's years in the wilderness, Elijah's days of fasting.  Journey with the Lord in this season of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and penitence to prepare to celebrate Easter.....

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