March 6, 2019

Ash Wed.

March 6, 2019:
Ash Wednesday

See 17 connections with today?
Legend below
  • NEW In secret/ Celoni:  sheet music, written for today (gospel)

For Psalm 51 (of the many settings)
Pope Francis

General audience:  Jesus has come.  There are many signs of the kingdom, but the world is still marked by sin and many hearts remain closed, so we implore, “Your kingdom come”!  People who don't reconcile or forgive, war, human trafficking, and other forms of exploitation all prove that many still live with closed hearts.  When we pray, “Your kingdom come!,” we say, "We need you everywhere; be among us!”

Jesus announced a message of joy: “The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  He doesn't push people to conversion by sowing fear of God's judgment; he announces that the positive signs of his coming Kingdom are manifest.  He took care of the sick, of those who were excluded such as lepers, of sinners.

Why does his kingdom come so slowly?  God is patient!  He wants to establish his kingdom not with violence but gentleness.  Pray the Our Father; pray God's kingdom come amidst our sins and failures.  Give these words to those defeated and bent by life, to those who have fought for justice, to all the martyrs, to those who have concluded that they've fought in vain and that evil dominates the world.

Lenten messageDon't let this season of grace pass in vain; live as God's children acknowledging and obeying his law, especially regarding our brothers and sisters and creation.  Prepare with mind and heart renewed; sin leads us to consider ourselves as god of creation and use it for our own interests.

"Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of God's children."  Leave selfishness and self-absorption behind; turn to Jesus’ Pasch.  Stand beside those in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods.
Welcome Christ’s victory over sin and death, and attract its transforming power to all creation.  Embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in your personal, family, and social lives by fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.

Fasting is turning away from the temptation satisfy our voracity.  Prayer teaches us to abandon idolatry and self-sufficiency.  By almsgiving we escape from the insanity of hoarding in the illusory belief we can secure a future that's not ours.  If we follow this journey, we can rediscover the joy of God’s plan for us and creation:  to love him, others, and the whole world and so find true happiness.  We must renew our faces and hearts through repentance, conversion, and forgiveness.  Creation's longing will be fulfilled when all people enter into the “travail” that conversion entails. Full text

Homily:   Lent is a wake-up call for the soul, a time to slow down in a fast-paced and directionless life, to fast from what distracts us.  The Lord says, “Return to me” because we've wandered off.  Lent is the time to rediscover the direction, not lose sight of the goal.  If we're distracted on a journey, we won't get far.  Ask, "Am I seeking the way forward, or am I satisfied living in the moment, just thinking of feeling good, solving problems, and having fun?"  Our path must lead to the Lord; we're not here to find possessions....

The ashes help us find direction; they remind us that what we chase after and worry about won't remain.  Earthly realities fade like dust in the wind.  Possessions are temporary; power passes; success wanes.  Today's culture of appearance, persuading us to live for passing things, is a deception, like a blaze that once ended leaves only ash.  Lent is the time to free ourselves from chasing after dust and to rediscover we're created for God, heaven, and freedom.  Ask, "What do I live for?"

Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting return us to lasting realities:  Prayer reunites us to God; charity, to our neighbour; fasting, to ourselves.  We must invest in what doesn't fade:  God, my neighbor, and my life.  Focusing on the Almighty in prayer frees us from the life where we find time for self but not God.  Charity invites us to focus on others, frees from the vanity of acquiring and of thinking things are good only if they're good for me.  Fasting frees us from attachment to things and from heart-numbing worldliness.

Appearance, money, career, or hobbies can distract us and cause us to lose direction, but if we're attached to what lasts, we rediscover ourselves and are freed.  Lent liberates us from vanity, healing us from addictions that seduce us and turning us to what abides.  Gaze on the Crucified, life’s compass, directing us to heaven.  From the cross Jesus teaches us the courage involved in renunciation and urges us to free ourselves from selfishness, from always wanting more and being closed to the needs of the poor.  Living as he asks is hard, but it leads us to him.  If we take the path of love, we'll embrace eternal life and be be full of joy.

To Brazil bishops' conference:  Lent invites us to prepare ourselves, through fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, to celebrate our Lord's victory.  To integrate these practices into our journey towards Easter, your campaign proposes “Fraternity and public policies,” with the motto, “You shall be redeemed with justice, with righteousness.”

“Public policies” guarantee citizens' common good.  All persons and institutions must feel they promote the wellbeing of everyone and everything, so they attain their perfection.  Christians must seek more active participation in society as a concrete form of love for others.  May this Lent help all Christians be open and see in the needy the flesh of Christ waiting to be recognized, touched, and assisted with care.

  • 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 I'll proclaim your praise.
  • 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.”
  • Fr. Jim Clarke homily videoWelcome to the Lent/Easter season:  Live authentically.  Open your heart.  Fast from what's out of order.  Be a person of charity.  Listen to God and be transformed.
  • Creighton:  Today's readings remind us of our need for ongoing conversion focus on Jesus.  Lent is a joyful season though many think of it as somber or gloomy.  We think of giving up things rather than of the joy of living out Christ's call.  Lent is, liturgically, a preparation for the celebration of Baptism, entrance into the person of Christ.  Each day I'm invited to deepen the reality of being in Christ and keep it alive, to deepen my relationship with Christ, whose Paschal Mystery beckons me to center my life on God’s love in the person of Jesus, rescuer and redeemer.
  • One Bread, One Body:  This Lent may we return to the Lord with our whole heart, receive his grace, mercy, and blessing, do penance in fasting, weeping, and mourning, walk with those preparing to be baptized, prepare to renew our own baptismal promises,"be reconciled to God" and others, and imitate Jesus in his fast.  Imitation of Christ is the essence of life (Thomas รก Kempis).
  • Passionist:  In Laudato Si, Pope Francis points out that the inequality of our brothers and sisters and the destruction of our earthly home are intertwined; consumerism and focusing on status destroy our planet.  We must care for the suffering both of others and of the earth.  Do I make almsgiving a top priority?  Do I make sacrifices to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, heal the sick?  Do I waste electricity?  Can I live more simply?
  •  "When you pray, fast, and give alms":  God wants to set us ablaze with his Spirit that we may share in his holiness and radiate gospel joy.  "There are two kinds of people and two kinds of love:  one holy, the other selfish; one subject to God, the other trying to equal him" (Augustine).  We are what we love.  God wants to free us from all that would keep us captive.  The Spirit is ready to transform and lead us.
Now available :-)
Jews considered prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as cardinal works of the religious life, key signs of a pious person, three pillars on which the good life was based.  Do you pray, fast, and give alms to draw attention to yourself or give glory to God?  The Lord warned his disciples against preoccupation with looking good and seeking praise.  True piety is loving devotion to God, awe, reverence, worship, obedience; it's a gift and work of the Spirit that enables us to devote our lives to God desiring to please him in all things.
In God alone do we find life, happiness, and truth. "When I'm completely united to you, there will be no more sorrows or trials; full of you, my life will be complete" (Augustine).  The Lord wants to renew us and give us hearts of love and compassion.  May we seek God in prayer and fasting, generously giving to those in need, and so grow in love for God and neighbor.
Forty is significant in the scriptures:  days Moses went to the mountain seeking God's face, years the Israelites were in the wilderness preparing to enter the promised land, days Elijah fasted on the way to the mountain of God.  We're called to journey with God and prepare for Easter.  The Lord gives us nourishment and strength to seek him and prepare for spiritual combat and testing. We must follow the way of the cross to share the victory of the resurrection.  Lord, pour out your Spirit that we may grow in faith, hope, and love and embrace your will more fully.
Dress legend
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  'Call' an assembly (1st reading)
  • 'Children' pin:  Gather the children! (1st reading)
  • '?' tie pin:  "Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (1st reading)
  • 'Boundless mercy' button:  The Lord, gracious and merciful, took pity on his people (1st reading); "Be merciful..." (psalm)
  • 'Heart' pin:  "Rend your heart"; "return to me with your whole heart" (1st reading); "create for me a clean heart" (psalm); harden not your hearts (gospel acclamation)
  • 'Angel with trumpet' pin:  "Blow the trumpet" (1st reading); don't blow a trumpet when you give alms (gospel)
  • 'Musical notes with "joy"' pin:  Give me back the joy of your salvation (psalm)
    • 'Car with mouth' pin:  Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise (psalm)
    • 'Dove' pin:  Don't take your Holy Spirit from me (psalm)
    • 'Clocks' suspenders:  "In an acceptable time I heard you.... Now is a very acceptable time..." (2nd reading)
    • 'Prize' pin:  "They've received their reward" vs. "Your Father will repay you" (gospel)
    • 'Hands' tie:  "When you give alms, don't let your left hand know what your right is doing" (gospel)
      • Washed face (not shown):  When you fast,...  wash your face (gospel)
      • Ashes on forehead (not shown):  Ash Wednesday; "you're dust and shall return to dust"
      • Purple shirt:  Lenten season

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