Today, on Ash Wednesday, we enter the great penitential season of Lent, a season that draws our attention to prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving. For many, this season is about “giving something up” (in today’s social media driven world that would be Facebook). Whatever your Lenten fast is this year, I encourage to do it, and to do it well.
Fasting though is only 1/3 of the Lenten motif, we must also pray and give alms. Since prayer is our encounter with God, adding times to pray to our daily routine would be extremely beneficial to each and everyone of us. A simple addition of prayer is signing up for Eucharistic Adoration in your parish or a nearby parish. Spending that extra hour in prayer each week will for sure increase your encounter with God.
For alms, if you have a favorite charity or don’t give to your parish yet, increasing your financial donations during the next 40 days will assist you in meeting the alms obligation during Lent. Please don’t forget, there are many people less fortunate that need our assistance at home and abroad.
With this being said, I now turn our attention to 10 Ash Wednesday Quotes from Pope Benedict XVI. These quotes are come from his homilies given to the Church and the world on the Ash Wednesday’s of his Papacy. Feel free to share this blog post or copy and paste the quotes to your social media sites, that’s if you haven’t given those up for Lent.
1. “Dear brothers and sisters, let us begin our Lenten journey with joyful confidence. May we feel deep within us the call to conversion, to “return to God with all our heart”, accepting his grace which makes us new men and women, with that astonishing newness which is a share in the very life of Jesus. May none of us be deaf to this appeal, which also comes to us in the austere rite, at once so simple and so evocative, of the imposition of ashes, which we are about to celebrate.” – 2013
2. “Lent reminds us, therefore, that Christian life is a never-ending combat in which the “weapons” of prayer, fasting and penance are used. Fighting against evil, against every form of selfishness and hate, and dying to oneself to live in God is the ascetic journey that every disciple of Jesus is called to make with humility and patience, with generosity and perseverance.” – 2006
3. “This is our responsibility, following in St Paul’s footsteps, a further reason for living Lent fully: in order to bear a witness of faith lived to a world in difficulty in need of returning to God, in need of conversion.” – 2011
4. “Prayer is a crucible in which our expectations and aspirations are exposed to the light of God’s Word, immersed in dialogue with the One who is the Truth, and from which they emerge free from hidden lies and compromises with various forms of selfishness (cf. Spe Salvi, n. 33). Without the dimension of prayer, the human “I” ends by withdrawing into himself, and the conscience, which should be an echo of God’s voice, risks being reduced to a mirror of the self, so that the inner conversation becomes a monologue, giving rise to self-justifications by the thousands.” – 2008
5. “…Ashes are one of the material signs that bring the cosmos into the Liturgy. The most important signs are those of the Sacraments: water, oil, bread and wine, which become true sacramental elements through which we receive the grace of Christ which comes among us. The ashes are not a sacramental sign, but are nevertheless linked to prayer and the sanctification of the Christian people. – 2012
6. “Precisely due to the richness of the symbols and of the biblical and liturgical texts, Ash Wednesday is considered the “door” to Lent. In effect, today’s liturgy and the gestures that mark it, together form, in anticipation and in a synthetic way, the very physiognomy of the entire period of Lent.” – 2007
7. “This absolute certainty sustained Jesus during the 40 days he spent in the Judean desert, after he had received Baptism from John in the Jordan. For him that long period of silence and fasting was a complete abandonment of himself to the Father and to his plan of love. The time was a “baptism” in itself, that is, an “immersion” in God’s will and in this sense a foretaste of the Passion and of the Cross. Going out into the desert alone to remain there at length meant exposing himself willingly to the assaults of the enemy, the tempter who brought about Adam’s fall and whose envy caused death to enter the world (cf. Wis 2: 24). It meant engaging in battle with him, with nothing but the weapon of boundless faith to challenge him, in the omnipotent love of the Father.” – 2010
8. “If Advent is the season par excellence that invites us to hope in the God-Who-Comes, Lent renews in us the hope in the One who made us pass from death to life. Both are seasons of purification – this is also indicated by the liturgical colour that they have in common – but in a special way Lent, fully oriented to the mystery of Redemption, is defined the ‘path of true conversion’” (cf. Collect). – 2008
9. “Fasting, to which the Church invites us in this particular season, certainly is not motivated by the physical or aesthetical order, but stems from the need that man has for an interior purification that detoxifies him from the pollution of sin and evil; it educates him to that healthy renunciation which releases the believer from the slavery to self; that renders him more attentive and open to listen to God and to be at the service of the brethren.” – 2007
10. “May Mary, our guide on the Lenten journey, lead us to ever deeper knowledge of the dead and Risen Christ, help us in the spiritual combat against sin, and sustain us as we pray with conviction: “Converte nos, Deus salutaris noster” — “Convert us to you, O God, our salvation”. Amen!” – 2011