7 Ash Wednesday Quotes by Pope Saint John Paul II

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day we enter the great penitential season of Lent, a season that draws our attention to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. For many, this season is about “giving something up” (in today’s technological world that would be social media on our phones or limiting our phone time in general). However, you can give anything up or even take something on. Whatever your Lenten fast is this year, I encourage to do it, and to do it well with the help of God’s grace.

Fasting though is only one-third of the Lenten theme, 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 every one 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. I really want to add more prayer time to my day, not just during these next 40 days, so that’s why I am working on adding the Liturgy of the Hours to my daily prayer routine.

For alms, if you have a favorite charity or don’t give to your parish, increasing your financial donations during the next 40 days will assist you in meeting the alms obligation during Lent. Since I am getting married in seven months, I am going to continue to clean out my closets and give away any clothes I don’t wear to shelters or St. Joseph the Worker, a local shelter here in the Phoenix area. Please don’t forget, there are many people less fortunate that need our assistance.

To help us prepare for this Ash Wednesday and Lent of this year, I now turn our attention to 7 Ash Wednesday Quotes from Pope Saint John Paul II. These quotes are come from his homilies and messages given to the Church and the world on the Ash Wednesday’s of his amazing Papacy –

1. “Today the Church lays great stress on this truth, confirmed by the history of every man. Remember that “to dust you shall return”. Remember that your life on earth has a limit!… Therefore the message of Ash Wednesday is expressed with the words of St. Paul: “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:20-21). Collaborate with him!”

2. “Repent and believe in the Gospel”. This invitation, which we find at the beginning of Jesus’ preaching, introduces us into the Lenten season, a time to be dedicated in a special way to conversion and renewal, to prayer, to fasting and to works of charity. In recalling the experience of the chosen people, we too set out as it were to retrace the journey that Israel made across the desert to the Promised Land. We too will reach our goal; after these weeks of penance, we will experience the joy of Easter. Our eyes, purified by prayer and penance, will be able to behold with greater clarity the face of the living God, to whom man makes his own pilgrimage on the paths of earthly life.”

John Paul II placing ashes on the head of a Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos in 2004. 

3. “During Lent, we prepare to relive the Paschal Mystery, which sheds the light of hope upon the whole of our existence, even its most complex and painful aspects. Holy Week will again set before us this mystery of salvation in the evocative rites of the Easter Triduum. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us set out with trust on our Lenten journey, sustained by fervent prayer, penance and concern for those in need. In particular, may this Lent be a time of ever greater concern for the needs of children, in our own families and in society as a whole: for they are the future of humanity.”

4. “‘Your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6: 4, 6, 18). Jesus’ words are addressed to each one of us at the beginning of our Lenten journey. We begin it with the imposition of ashes, an austere penitential gesture very dear to Christian tradition. It emphasizes the awareness of sinners as they stand before the majesty and holiness of God. At the same time, it demonstrates readiness to accept and to transform into concrete choices adherence to the Gospel.”

5. “The Church lives Christ’s redemptive sacrifice throughout the liturgical year. However, in the season of Lent we would like to immerse ourselves in it in a particularly intense way, as the Apostle urges us: “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor 6:2). In this important season, the treasures of Redemption, merited for us by Christ crucified and risen, are dispensed to us in a most particular way. Thus the Psalmist’s exclamation: “Create in me a clean heart … and put a new and right spirit within men becomes at the beginning of Lent a strong call to conversion.

6. “Why does the Church place ashes on our foreheads today? Why does she remind us of death? Death which is the effect of sin! Why?…To prepare us for Christ’s Passover. For the paschal mystery of the Redeemer of the world. Paschal mystery means what we profess in the Creed: “On the third day he rose again”!…Yes. Today we need to hear the “you are dust and to dust you will return” of Ash Wednesday, so that the definitive truth of the Gospel, the truth about the Resurrection, will unfold before us: believe in the Gospel.”

7. “By inviting us through the discipline of Lent to tread the paths of love and hope marked out by Christ, the Church makes us realize that the Christian life involves detachment from superfluous goods, and the acceptance of a poverty which sets us free, and enables us to discover God’s presence and to welcome our brothers and sisters with an ever more active solidarity and in an ever wider fellowship.”

So as we step into this Lenten season, I pray that each of us upholds our penances and sacrifices with a fervent desire to grow closer to Our Lord Jesus and his Catholic Church. Ask for the intercession of the Holy Mother of God to give you the strength to offer up the next 40 days to Our Lord. Pray with the Saints, many who knew the day-to-day meaning of penance and sacrifice.

If you are now avoiding certain social media sites this year, make sure you sign-up on my homepage to receive blog posts when I write them.

10 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today, in the Catholic Church, we celebrate one of the great solemnities associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This doctrine was declared dogmatic on December 8, 1854, by Blessed Pope Pius IX through an ex cathedra statement. For a full explanation of this dogma, I would encourage you to read my article, Special Friday Edition: “Mondays with Mary” – The Immaculate Conception: Explained.

Since you all know that I am a big Pope St. John Paul II fan, I thought I would focus today’s article on some of his quotes about this great Marian solemnity. Taken from a variety of his Angelus’ during his reign, here are 10 quotes from John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception –

1. “The background for today’s solemnity is the biblical icon of the Annunciation, when the angel’s mysterious greeting resounded: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). “Full of grace”! Here is Mary, as God conceived of her and desired her in his inscrutable plan: a creature filled with divine love, all goodness, all beauty, all holiness.”

2. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sm 16:7). And Mary’s heart was fully disposed to the fulfilment of the divine will. This is why the Blessed Virgin is the model of Christian expectation and hope… In her heart there is no shade of selfishiness: she desires nothing for herself except God’s glory and human salvation. For her, the very privilege of being preserved from original sin is not a reason to boast, but one for total service to her Son’s redemptive mission.”

3. “This important Marian feast occurs during Advent, a season of watchful and prayerful preparation for Christmas. She who knew better than anyone how to wait attentively for the Lord guides us and shows us how to make more vital and active our journey to the Holy Night of Bethlehem. With her, we spend these weeks in prayer and, guided by her bright star, hasten to make the spiritual journey that will lead us to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation with greater intensity.”

4. “What happened to Mary turns our attention to Jesus Christ, the only Mediator of salvation, and helps us to see life as a loving plan with which we must cooperate responsibly. Mary is not only a model of the call, but also of the response. Indeed, she said “yes” to God at the beginning and at every successive moment of her life, fully complying with his will, even when she found it obscure and hard to accept.”

Immaculate Conception – Bartolomeo Murillo

5. “Today we contemplate the humble girl of Nazareth who, by an extraordinary and ineffable privilege, was preserved from the contagion of original sin and from every fault, so that she could be a worthy dwelling-place for the Incarnate Word. In Mary, the New Eve, Mother of the New Adam, the Father’s original, wondrous plan of love was re-established in an even more wondrous way. Therefore the Church gratefully acclaims:  “Through you, immaculate Virgin, the life we had lost was returned to us. You received a child from heaven, and brought forth to the world a Saviour” (Liturgy of the Hours, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday, Benedictus Antiphon).”

6. “The Immaculate Virgin however invites us not to fix our eyes on her but to pass beyond, and as much as possible, to enter into the mystery in which she was conceived: the mystery of God who is One and Three, full of grace and fidelity. As the moon shines with the light of the sun, so the immaculate splendour of Mary is totally relative to that of the Redeemer. The Mother leads us to her Son; passing through her, we reach Christ. For this reason, Dante Allighieri notes fittingly: “that her radiance alone can dispose you to see Christ”.

7. “Mary was pleasing to God because of her docile humility. To the heavenly messenger, she replied, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1,38). It is with the same interior disposition that believers are called to accept the divine will in every circumstance.”

8. “Today the Church is celebrating the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If Christ is the day that never fades, Mary is its dawn, shining with beauty. Chosen in advance to be the Mother of the incarnate Word, Mary is at the same time the first-fruits of his redeeming action. The grace of Christ the Redeemer acted in her in anticipation, preserving her from original sin and from any contagion of guilt.”

9. “The Immaculate Conception shines like a beacon of light for humanity in all the ages. At the beginning of the third millennium, it guides us to believe and hope in God, in his salvation and in eternal life. In particular, it lights the way of the Church, which is committed to the new evangelization.”

10. “Hail, full of grace. What do these words mean? The Evangelist Luke writes that Mary (Miriam), at these words spoken by the Angel, “was greatly troubled…, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (Lk 1:29). These words express a singular election. Grace means a particular fullness of creation through which the being, who resembles God, participates in God’s own interior life. Grace means love and the gift of God himself, the completely free gift (“given gratuitously”) in which God entrusts to man his Mystery, giving him, at the same time, the capacity of being able to bear witness to the Mystery, of filling with it his human being, his life, his thoughts, his will and his heart.”

Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception…Pray for Us

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us

A New Page – Pope Saint John Paul II

Over the past week, I have been working on a new page for this blog. Like my pages for “Mondays with Mary”, Quick Lessons from the Catechism, and the Doctors of the Church, I wanted this page to focus on a particular subject. Well, after a few days of slowly copying and pasting articles, I have created the new page – Pope Saint John Paul II.

You will find this page right after “Mondays with Mary” and before Quick Lessons from the Catechism on the top of my home page. Since so much of my writing is about Pope St. John Paul and since “JP2 Generation” is part of my subtitle, I figured that I should create a page where my readers can go and read my specific writings on John Paul II.  As of currently, there are 81 articles (82 if you include this one) that specifically focus on Pope St. John Paul II.

I hope you can read some of my articles on JP2 and share them with your family and friends. Feel free to share my website/blog with others as well.

In Christ through Mary,

Tom Perna

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray for Us.

Cardinal Wojtyla on the ski slopes.

Happy Birthday to my hero – Pope St. John Paul II

Today would have been the 97th birthday of Karol Wojtyla, known to so many as – Pope St. John Paul II. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him fondly. The reason I do what I do on this blog and in my position at the parish is based on his life and his many great documents. The influence of John Paul II on my own life is truly immeasurable. I was blessed to see him three times in my life – Phoenix, Arizona in 1987, Denver, Colorado in 1993, and in Rome, Italy in 2000. I am the JP2 Generation.

Pope St. John Paul II as a young priest.

For a collection of pictures from a previous post, check out this one I wrote on his birthday in 2014. Below are the Top 5 All-Time Posts (most views) I have written in the past –

1. 12 Quotes from Blessed Pope John Paul II on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World 

2. 12 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Guadalupe

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Mother of Mercy

4. 5 Quotes on Pentecost from Pope St. John Paul II

5. 10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

For the complete collection of my writings on him, click here.

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray For Us 

“Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom

Since yesterday was the 12th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s entrance into eternal glory, I thought I would combine his words on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom with Mary in Old Testament (a series I have been writing recently) for today’s “Mondays with Mary.” Before we focus on the late Holy Father’s words, let us turn our gaze to understanding the Old Testament Marian symbol – “Created Wisdom.”

In the Old Testament, we see some rather transcendent passages on the idea of Wisdom, which focuses on the divine Person, the Father’s Word, who exists and works before all of creation is formed, most notably, Sirach 24:3-21 and Proverbs 8:22-35. The Church in the liturgical texts has used these transcendent scriptures for two Marian feasts since the seventh and tenth centuries – The Assumption of Mary into Heaven and The Nativity of Mary. In the Lectionary, these passages are commonly used for the Masses for the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headed as “Mary, Seat of Wisdom.”

Since the seventh century, the Church has employed these texts to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This did not happen through simple accommodation, but through the simple and basic understanding of the texts, which “evidently is found in the letter of the text, but at the same time surpasses it, widens it, and enriches it.”

We see then that through the writings of the sacred author, “Wisdom, by way of reflection and participation is ascribed to Mary, the Mother of the Word of God, who from eternity was predestined, as Ineffabilis Deus, in one and the same decree with the Incarnation of divine Wisdom.” Understanding this, it is clear that Mary shares and plays a fundamental role in the mission of the Incarnation as well as the perquisites of the Word who dwelt among us, the hypostatic Wisdom incarnate. Wisdom, which was uncreated, was now incarnate in Mary, making her the epicenter of Life and Truth. She is truly “Created Wisdom.”

Madonna as Seat of Wisdom, 1199

Now that we have come to an understanding of the Marian symbol – “created wisdom”, let us turn our attention to five quotes by Pope St. John Paul II that focus on the Marian title, Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom –

1. “The prophecy and the promise of faith, whose fulfillment was awaited by the whole people, the Israel of divine election, and the whole of humanity: This was Mary’s mystery. Joseph did not know this mystery. She could not transmit it to him, because it was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language. It was not possible to transmit it by any human means. It was only possible to accept it from God – and believe. Just as Mary believed. – Termi, Italy, 1981

2. “Beloved young people! Continue to live in the truth and for the truth! May the Blessed Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom, Mother of the Word who enlightens every man, assist you, enlighten you, and comfort you.” – Rome, Italy, 1979

3. “To succeed in your intentions, entrust yourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary always, but especially in moments of difficulty and darkness. ‘From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God…Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God’s Word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.’” – Washington, D.C., 1979

4. “The cross is the living book from which we learn definitively who we are and how we must act. This book is always open in front of us. Read, reflect, enjoy this new wisdom. Make it your own and you will walk also along the paths of knowledge, culture, and university life, spreading light in a service of love, worthy of children of God.

And look also the Blessed Virgin, standing by the cross of Jesus (Jn. 19:25) where she is given to us as our mother: she is our hope, the seat of true Wisdom.” – Rome, Italy, 1980

5. “Be faithful to the Mother of fair love. Have trust in her, as you shape your love and form your young families. May Christ always be there for you “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – Krakow, Poland, 1979

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom…Pray for Us.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us.