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All Issues > Volume 28, Issue 2

<< Wednesday, February 22, 2012 >> Ash Wednesday
Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2

View Readings
Psalm 51:3-6, 12-14, 17
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Similar Reflections


"Your Holy Spirit take not from me." —Psalm 51:13

Today, the Church marks our foreheads with an ashen cross as we begin the season of Lent. The ashes represent the death of a way of life. We repent to the very depths of our being. We deny ourselves in an ever deeper way, take up our daily cross, and follow Jesus (Lk 9:23). We turn away from sin and turn to God with our whole heart (Jl 2:12). We even turn away from good things that the world has to offer in order to devote ourselves entirely to God (see Jl 2:16). Moreover, we make a new beginning by throwing ourselves on the providence of God, allowing Him to repay us if and when He sees fit (Mt 6:18).

One of God's greatest provisions is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit provides life-giving water in the desert of Lent (Jn 7:37). The Holy Spirit helps us become holy in every aspect of our conduct (Rm 8:5ff; 1 Pt 1:15). The Spirit burns away complacency and stirs up zeal (2 Tm 1:6-7).

Fr. Al Lauer, founder of One Bread, One Body, said, "The more I say 'No' to myself, the more I say 'Yes' to the Holy Spirit." This saying is a key to help you unlock the Lent of a lifetime. When Jesus went into the desert for forty days, He was led by the Holy Spirit (Mt 4:1). When you're in the middle of the desert, that's a good time to be saying 'Yes' to the Holy Spirit rather than 'No.' It's the Holy Spirit Who fights against temptations and helps you in the self-denials of Lent (Gal 5:17).

Repent now! (2 Cor 6:2) "Be reconciled to God!" (2 Cor 5:20) Deny yourself. "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:22).

Prayer: Father, I receive the Lenten ashes today as a sign of my desire to receive the Holy Spirit in a life-changing way this Lent.
Promise: "Keep your deeds of mercy secret, and your Father Who sees in secret will repay you." —Mt 6:4
Praise: "O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim Your praise" (Ps 51:17).
(This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Imprimatur ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 29, 2011.
The Imprimatur ("Permission to Publish") is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.
Volume 28, Issue 2
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