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Wednesday, March 5, 2003

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Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Psalm 51
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

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lent: the imitation of christ

"Give me back the joy of Your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me." —Psalm 51:14

Why Lent? Some answers are:

  • to return to the Lord with our whole heart (Jl 2:12),
  • to receive God's grace, mercy, and blessing (Jl 2:13-14),
  • to do penance in fasting, weeping, and mourning (Jl 2:12),
  • to prepare for Easter,
  • to walk with those who are preparing to be baptized at Easter,
  • to prepare to renew our baptismal promises,
  • in obedience to the Holy Spirit and the Church,
  • because an extended fast has proven to be good for us,
  • to "be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:20) and others, even our enemies,
  • because "now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" (2 Cor 6:2),
  • to have a new springtime of our life in the Spirit, and
  • to imitate Jesus in His forty-day fast beginning His public ministry.

This last reason for Lent is probably one of the best. Imitation is one of the greatest compliments we can give to a person. As Thomas á Kempis taught, the imitation of Christ is the essence of life. To imitate Christ in fasting and all the way to the cross is desirable only for someone in love with Jesus. When we receive an ashen cross on our foreheads today, let us rejoice that in a little way we can become a little more like Jesus, the Love of our life.

Prayer:  Father, may I be attracted to a forty-day fast primarily because Jesus did it.

Promise:  "Spare, O Lord, Your people, and make not Your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them!" —Jl 2:17

Praise:  Kathleen's awareness of her natural hunger due to fasting helps her to more greatly appreciate her need for the supernatural food — the Eucharist.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, August 1, 2002

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 7, 2002