Fidelity to the Word
Our Lord and His Holy Apostles at the Last Supper

A blog dedicated to Christ Jesus our Lord and His True Presence in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist

But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:11-12

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent for most Catholics. I took the following from our parish's bulletin from last Sunday. Mostly, I was glad to hear some urgency in Father's call for us to do penance and reform our lives. I wish I had heard more of it these last few decades. Apparently, some parishioners had trouble adjusting to our pastor the first couple years he was here, and complained to the bishop about him being too harsh or legalistic, but it doesn't help anyone to keep the truth fuzzy and obscure. May God bless you with a Lent that is spiritually fruitful.
A Message from our Pastor

“Do not say, ‘Who can have power over me?’ for the Lord will surely punish you. Do not say, ‘I have sinned, yet what has happened to me?’ for the Lord is slow to anger. Do not be so confident of forgiveness that you add sin to sin. Do not say, ‘His mercy is great, he will forgive the multitude of my sins,’ for both mercy and wrath are with him, and his anger will rest on sinners. Do not delay to turn back to the Lord, and do not postpone it from day to day; for suddenly the wrath of the Lord will come upon you and at the time of punishment you will perish.” [Sirach 5:2-7]

During approaching days of Lent, these words written almost 2200 years ago sound through the depths of our hearts like a fire alarm or tornado siren. We are called “loud and clear” to look deep into our hearts and see how we stand before God now. As the Apostle Paul declared to the Christians at Corinth: “We urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain…Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!” [II Corinthians 6:1, 2] Each of us without excuse must ask ourselves personally is there anything at all that makes me frightened at this moment, not tomorrow, not next week, not when I am older, to enter before the judgment of God. Am I ready at this moment to die?

One of the absolute “facts of life” is that every one of us
is in a “terminal condition”. Every one of us – Caucasians, persons of color, Hispanics, Republicans, Democrats, rich and poor – yes, every one of us will die! But when and how is unknown to us. The “how” of our dying– a stroke, cancer, a car accident, war, etc. -- is rather secondary. The “when” is important, but hidden from us. We must be ready at all times.

“You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” [Matthew 24:44] As far as I know, today is the last day of my life. As far as I know, today is the last day that I have an opportunity to change my life, to repent of my sins. If, in fact, today is the day when I am called to judgment, I will not regret that I have come to the sacrament of penance too often, but perhaps once too seldom; that I have received the Holy Eucharist too often, but perhaps once too seldom; that I have forgiven my neighbor too often, but once too seldom.

As we reflect on those words of Ash Wednesday, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”, remember that Jesus has promised us His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, His word in the Scriptures, His guidance in His Church, and His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. But one thing that God has promised to no one: TOMORROW!!!

My brothers and sisters, let us intensely pray, sacrifice for the poor, and mortify ourselves. Lent is a time of interior violence: “The kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone who enters does so with violence.” [Luke 16:16] In the timeless words of coaching: “No gain without pain.” As the athletic “track coach” author of the Letter to the Hebrews declares: “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”
[12:1-2] Okay, team; let’s go for it.

In Jesus & Mary,
Father (Coach) Jim

On a sillier note: "Ashes" Named Favorite Catholic Sacrament

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