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Wednesday, February 17, 1999

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Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Psalm 51
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

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god's whereabouts

"Where is their God?" —Joel 2:17

After Adam and Eve committed the first sin, "the Lord God then called to the man and asked him, 'Where are you?' " (Gn 3:9) In sin, we are lost and disoriented. We don't know where we are. Moreover, we are so confused that we project our disorientation onto God. We ask "Where is God?", as if God were lost.

This Lent, we have the opportunity to get our bearings — to realize that God has always been there, while we are the ones lost. "Even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning" (Jl 2:12). This Ash Wednesday, may the ashen crosses on our foreheads not be empty symbols but signs of our decision to repent deeply and totally from our sins. May the Lord use our forty-day fast to open our eyes to our "lostness" and to God's presence. The Lord has promised that in our repentance and fasting, "light shall break forth like the dawn" (Is 58:8), and "light shall rise" for us "in the darkness" (Is 58:10).

As He has promised, the Lord will always be there for us. He will never desert us or forsake us (Heb 13:5). He is present in the most tragic situations. We will realize this when we let Him open our eyes through repentance and fasting. Repent, fast, and know God is with you.

Prayer:  Father, do in me whatever it takes to make me acutely and joyfully aware of Your presence.

Promise:  "Now is the day of salvation!" —2 Cor 6:2

Praise:  Last year during Lent, Danielle returned to the Church after an absence of many years. She made a full Confession on Holy Saturday, and celebrated Easter by receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 23, 1998

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 27, 1998