Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The more I say 'No' to myself, the more I say 'Yes' to the Holy Spirit

“Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself” - Saint Peter Chrysologus

(Psalm 51)
R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Today is the first day of Lent - Ash Wednesday: «Now is the day of salvation!» (2Cor 6:2). The application of ashes reminds us of two ideals; the ancient one: «Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you will return»; and the one which the Council's renewed liturgy has introduced: «Repent, and believe in the Gospel». Both thoughts are an invitation to look at our own life in a different way. Pope Saint Clement I reminds us that «our Lord wants all whom He loves to become converts».

After a forest fire, the forest floor is covered with ashes. The ashes are the residue of death and destruction. However, the ashes also are the beginning of new life for the forest. The fire clears away the accumulated litter on the forest floor which had been smothering seedlings which tried to grow every year. Now that the fire has burned away this litter, the ashes serve as a sort of mulch which protects and actually nourishes the new seedlings. Thus, the ashes enable the cycle of new life to begin.

We are like that. The Lenten ashes of our repentance and dying to self smother our selfish pleasures, enabling and nourishing new life to blossom within us.

What new life does the Lord want to spring up as a result of your dying to self this Lent?

Will it be a call to a new vocation, the conception of a new child, a new holiness, the courage to witness publicly for Jesus, or returning home to the Catholic Church? Repent! Die to yourself (Lk 9:23). Let Jesus create His new, abundant life (Jn 10:10) in you

Will the ashen cross remain on your heart after it has been wiped off your forehead? Do you have the heart to receive ashes today?

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