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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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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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public or private?

"Blow the trumpet in Zion." —Joel 2:15<br> "Sound no trumpet before you." —Matthew 6:2, RSV-CE

There is a public dimension to Lent. The ashes on our forehead proclaim to the world that we are mortal, that we are sinners in need of God's mercy, and that we are united with other Catholics. Together all Catholics fast, pray, do penance, and give alms to grow together as a holy people, powerful in intercession.

There is a private, interior dimension to Lent. We are to give our lives to the Lord for His own sake, not for vanity or pride, that is, vainglory. We beg the Lord to purify our motives. We fast not to lose weight, though that may be a desirable side-effect. We fast to grow close to God alone (Zec 7:4-6), not to be noticed. By saying 'No' to ourselves, we say 'Yes' to the Holy Spirit.

Through the Church, Jesus invites us to accompany Him on a forty-day retreat into the desert (Mt 4:1ff). The Lenten desert will test us to our limits. Do we want Lent to be a drudgery or a time of growth in grace and power? Do we want an "easy" Lent, or do we want strongholds of evil to be thrown down by the power of our fasting and prayer? (Mt 17:21, NAB) Do we simply want to survive the trials of Lent, or do we want God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?

"Now is the acceptable time" (2 Cor 6:2). Publicly and privately, immerse yourself into Lent.

Prayer:  Father, may we love You for Yourself alone.

Promise:  "For our sakes God made Him Who did not know sin, to be sin, so that in Him we might become the very holiness of God." —2 Cor 5:21

Praise:  Patricia increases the frequency of her visits to confession during Lent.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
(Ladies, study Pope St. John Paul II's Dignity and Vocation of Women at our annual Lenten women's retreat on Mar. 18. Call 513-373-2397 or visit our website to register or for questions.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 12, 2016

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