Friday, February 27, 2009

Ash Wednesday, 2009

What a day! What with being out, in full battle-rattle, all day Tuesday on the road convoying to various places at some distance from where I live, and all the miles that SFC McG and I put on the NTV (non-tactical vehicle (= SUV)) on Ash Wednesday going from place to place around here, it has been a couple of exhausting days.

There were, all told, a LOT of people who came to Masses over the last couple of days. It's been great!

I live for this stuff.

The Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday each year is pretty awesome, too (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18 -- look it up!).

Jesus tells his followers "When you give alms... When you pray... When you fast...." He *presumes* they will be giving alms, and praying, and fasting -- which is the essence of Lenten penitential practice -- he doesn't say, "*If* you give alms," or "*If* you pray," or "*If* you fast!"

As I mentioned in an earlier post, our Lenten observance has to do with our walking in solidarity with those Catechumens who will be receiving the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist) at the East Vigil this year, and are in their final days of preparation for those Sacraments.

Lenten almsgiving, praying, and fasting -- all interconnected -- have a communitarian focus. None of it is just about *me*. It's about the "us" that is the Christian community.

I hate to break it to you, folks.

(I know, many of you know share my motto which is, "I may not be much, but I *am* all I ever think about," so this is a hard and bitter pill to swallow!)

I pray that those of us who observe Lent this year can keep the focus on the community -- and especially on the Catechumens -- and try mightily to keep the focus off ourselves and how virtuous, etc., we are because of the feats of self-abnegation we're accomplishing by all the 'stuff' we've "given up for Lent."

When we give alms, when we pray, and when we fast this Lent (not IF!), let us do so in the light of our wonder and awe and gratitude for the action of a God in our lives who has loved us with a love that forgives and saves and transforms.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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