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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

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Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Psalm 51:3-6, 12-14, 17
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

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a spirited lent

"Your Holy Spirit take not from me." —Psalm 51:13

Today, the Church marks our foreheads with an ashen cross as we begin the season of Lent. The ashes represent the death of a way of life. We repent to the very depths of our being. We deny ourselves in an ever deeper way, take up our daily cross, and follow Jesus (Lk 9:23). We turn away from sin and turn to God with our whole heart (Jl 2:12). We even turn away from good things that the world has to offer in order to devote ourselves entirely to God (see Jl 2:16). Moreover, we make a new beginning by throwing ourselves on the providence of God, allowing Him to repay us if and when He sees fit (Mt 6:18).

One of God's greatest provisions is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit provides life-giving water in the desert of Lent (Jn 7:37). The Holy Spirit helps us become holy in every aspect of our conduct (Rm 8:5ff; 1 Pt 1:15). The Spirit burns away complacency and stirs up zeal (2 Tm 1:6-7).

Fr. Al Lauer, founder of One Bread, One Body, said, "The more I say 'No' to myself, the more I say 'Yes' to the Holy Spirit." This saying is a key to help you unlock the Lent of a lifetime. When Jesus went into the desert for forty days, He was led by the Holy Spirit (Mt 4:1). When you're in the middle of the desert, that's a good time to be saying 'Yes' to the Holy Spirit rather than 'No.' It's the Holy Spirit Who fights against temptations and helps you in the self-denials of Lent (Gal 5:17).

Repent now! (2 Cor 6:2) "Be reconciled to God!" (2 Cor 5:20) Deny yourself. "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:22).

Prayer:  Father, I receive the Lenten ashes today as a sign of my desire to receive the Holy Spirit in a life-changing way this Lent.

Promise:  "Keep your deeds of mercy secret, and your Father Who sees in secret will repay you." —Mt 6:4

Praise:  "O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim Your praise" (Ps 51:17).

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 29, 2011

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