Prayer Before The Crucifix

"O good and dearest Jesus, I kneel before your face. With all my heart I ask you to place in my heart more faith, hope and charity. Give me a true sorrow for my sins and a strong will to do better With great sorrow and grief I look upon your five wounds and think about them. Before my eyes are the words that the prophet David said of you, O good Jesus: "They have pierced my hands and feet They have numbered all my bones."

Prayer Source: Holy Lent by Eileen O'Callaghan, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1975


Almsgiving Is Not a Dirty Word

Our Holy Father's Lenten message took a different turn this year. For years, the Lenten season for Catholics has been one to focus on three tasks and make them part of our daily practice: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. In our material and consumer-oriented world we have increasingly made the latter a naughty word. Pope Benedict attempts to alter that way of thinking.

"...I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk 16,13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. ... According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbor. ... When we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being; indeed, we have been created not for ourselves but for God and our brothers and sisters (cf. 2 Cor 5,15)."


Making An ASH Out Of Oneself

Yes, that is what we do. Almost everyday we rise from our beds, we begin a new day filled with choices. Good and bad choices. Of course bad choices lend themselves to sin. On this day, perhaps more than any other day of the year (except Good Friday) we should be conscious of our sinfulness and in a particular way admit it by displaying the ashes in the form of the cross on our foreheads. In short we let the world know we are rooted in SIN and desire to move in a different direction.

Ash Wednesday is the day that we NAME our sins, CLAIM them as belonging to us so that we can TAME them. NAME, CLAIM, TAME. For some 1100 years Christians have been celebrating this day. In modern times we no longer run around wearing itchy sack cloth, but this one day of the year, when we smudge our faces with palm residue, we put the other 364 (or 365 for leap year) days into perceptive.

May your Lent be truly a time to rediscover, renew and recharge your life in and with the Lord.