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Posts Tagged ‘Ash Wednesday’

This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

An ambassador is an honorary position, but also a very responsible one. An ambassador stands in place of another of greater distinction and purpose. Saint Paul liked to think of himself as representative of Christ and His message, and so do I! What a Christian challenge! To be a stand-in for Christ!

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We carry in our hearts and minds the indwelling of our Savior, with all the outpouring of God’s love. The call this Lent may be precisely to let Christ truly live out His love in and through us. We might spend some time reflecting on Paul’s words to the Corinthians (2Cor. 5.20-6.2).

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, to be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain!”

So we resolve not to receive the grace of God in vain. This Lent the church is even more than ever aware of the great message of God’s love and forgiveness, as Pope Francis has announced a Holy Year of Mercy. To reflect on God’s great love, acceptance and forgiveness, encourages us to be merciful to ourselves but also challenges us to treat others with this same mercy. We recognize and even celebrate that while made to the image and likeness of God, we are all very human and human beings are “in the making” and not brought to perfection yet. Because we are in the making we depend on and want others to give us the benefit of the doubt, to have mercy when we fail or make mistakes. We too need not to judge others or expect perfection from them. Let us use the entrance antiphon for Ash Wednesday as our own mantra this week: “You are merciful to all, O Lord. You overlook people’s sins, to bring them to repentance, and you spare them, for you are the Lord our God.” But instead of the “Lord” say: “I am merciful to all.” And then see what happens.

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Ash Wednesday – Mirroring the Face of Christ

By Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

Lent may be a good time to look into the mirror of our own lives and see how much we resemble Christ, i.e., the goodness, compassion, love and Gospel values which we are graced with by Baptism. On any given day we look into a mirror and we get only a glimpse of who we are, because that reflection is not the complete truth. It is an external image of how we look as we look into the mirror. We are much more than this. Within our heart, soul, mind, life experience and memory, is our unique, beautiful personhood. As Christians we want to reflect God who dwells within, and say with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “When people look at me they see no longer me, but the Face of Jesus.”

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A good Lenten practice during these holy 40 days could be to allow our faces to communicate Jesus. As we do this, here are a few scripture passages to pray:

2 Cor. 3.18 “Now this Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory. This is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit.”

1 Cor. 13.12 “Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.”

During Lent we want to bring out our inner beauty by cleansing ourselves of all that detracts, all that smudges our faces. We note how often Ps. 51 appears with the humble acknowledgement that we need forgiveness, grace and the cleansing. We pray, “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” On Ash Wednesday we pray, “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”

What do you need to do at this time to more radiantly mirror the face of Jesus to all you meet? What kind of cleanser will you use for 40 days to see results? And how much will it cost?

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 Ash Wednesday

Prayer, Almsgiving, Fasting: “Behold now is the acceptable time.”

By Sister Mary Regina Robbins

Each year the Christian liturgical calendar invites us to go deeper into the meaning of our commitment to Jesus Christ as we enter the Lenten journey of 40 days. The ritual of receiving ashes on our foreheads and watching others receive the same, is a reminder that we do not journey alone and that we have not here a lasting home, but are going to die someday as we “pass” into our eternal home.

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The journey of life is wonderful, but also a serious one-time hike! The ashes sober us into reality. The traditional ritual word, “remember” strikes a note of examining who we are and where we are going. As baptized people, graced to live in imitation of Jesus Christ, we wish to “die with him” that we might also “rise with him” in the Paschal Mystery we will celebrate on Easter.

The early Church fathers earmarked prayeralmsgiving and fasting as ways to prepare for baptism at Easter. This tradition soon became a practice for all Christians preparing to renew their baptismal commitment at Easter. But where are we with this today? Underlining all Lenten practices is the motivation of love. Prayer, almsgiving and fasting, when rightly understood and practiced, free a person to greater self-monitoring and discipline in order to overcome innate selfishness and be more loving.

Prayer:  Take time to reflect on prayer in your life. Be quiet enough to listen to God. Spend more quality time being with God. He is always available. Reading scripture and spiritual literature can jump start us into prayer that is truly effective for personal growth and communion with God.

Almsgiving:  Almsgiving requires us to give away generously to someone in need. We can give time, talent or goods and money. In other words, we “sacrifice” for others.

Fasting: Fasting is refraining from something to the point of feeling the emptiness of its absence and being reminded that one must rely on God and delay immediate self-gratification. It means denying ourselves those stumbling blocks to true growth in holiness. Besides the laws of the Church, we need to choose a “fasting” practice peculiar to our unique disposition and situation.

So as we start out on our journey, let us consider how prayer, almsgiving and fasting will accompany us on our way to Easter Joy.

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