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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

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Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Psalm 51:3-6, 12-14, 17
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

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a world-wide repentance program

"Now is the acceptable time!" —2 Corinthians 6:2

Many of us long for the renewal of the Catholic Church. We hunger for the members of the Church to be set on fire, to abandon themselves to Jesus. We long for Masses to be full of people who are filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:4). The Lord's answer to your longing is: "Repent and believe in the gospel. Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return."

I am sitting in a 6:30 AM Mass with several hundred people who have come to receive ashes at the Ash Wednesday morning Mass. Normally there are seventy-five people at this Mass; today there are at least 250 people. The message of Ash Wednesday, that we humans are sinners who need to repent, reform our lives, pray, fast, and give alms is completely opposed to the message of the secular culture. The Catholic Church, in her wisdom and guided by the Holy Spirit, recognizes that people's hearts are restless until they rest in God (see Catechism, 30, St. Augustine). Knowing that something deep within the heart of men and women longs to be reconciled with God (see 2 Cor 5:20), the Church designed a world-wide program of repentance. It is called the season of Lent, and this program begins with Ash Wednesday. People truly do respond heartily to Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Therefore, with millions of believers around the world, "rend your hearts" (Jl 2:13) and enter into the season of Lent. Repent and humble yourself in the sight of the Lord (1 Pt 5:6).

Prayer:  "Have mercy on me, O God, in Your goodness; in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offense" (Ps 51:3).

Promise:  "The Lord was stirred with concern for His land and took pity on His people" —Jl 2:18

Praise:  Samantha returned to Confession after a twenty-year absence. She now receives Jesus daily in the Eucharist.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, September 28, 2015

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