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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

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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 in the hospital

"Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast." —Joel 2:15

I have written One Bread, One Body for about twenty years. Most of the time I have written these daily teachings in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Occasionally, I have to write these teachings on airplanes and at other sundry locations. Today, on this first day of Lent, I write from my hospital bed with an IV in my arm, as I await potential surgery.

Today, throughout the world, many millions of Catholics hear the sobering words: "Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return." A hospital bed is a good place to appreciate this command and statement. A hospital bed is a good place to hear another command: "Yet even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning" (Jl 2:12). We know we should repent. But is it actually a matter of life or death, of salvation or damnation? A hospital bed is a good place to hear the wonderful promise: "Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" (2 Cor 6:2) In the hospital, "now" tends to mean more than "tomorrow." A hospital bed is a good place to begin Lent and take God so dead seriously that we enter more fully into eternal life.

Have the holiest Lent ever, the Lent of a lifetime, a springtime of your life in the Spirit.

Prayer:  Father, teach me the deeper meanings of an ashen cross.

Promise:  "Then the Lord was stirred to concern for His land and took pity on His people." —Jl 2:18

Praise:  Sandra repented deeply and wept tears of contrition as she returned to Confession after an absence of twenty years.

Reference:  (For the holiest Lent ever, learn more about the Bible. You may wish to order our Overview of the Bible, a small series which has six audio tapes starting with AV 10A-1 or a three video tape series starting with V-10A.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Richard Walling, July 18, 2003

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 24, 2003