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Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Ash Wednesday
Valentine’s Day/world marriage day


Isaiah, Chapter 33, verse 6
That which makes her seasons certain, her wealth, salvation, wisdom, and knowledge, is the fear of the LORD, her treasure.

Wherever your treasure is that is where your heart is and our hearts are made for the Lord. Fear of the Lord means that we have a father/son relationship of care, respect and love. Our God does not want to be objectified as some obtainable good. Nor does our God want to be appeased with our prayers and obedience. God is not an insurance agent that guarantees us against losses if we pay our premiums in prayers. If God is our treasure, he is our star, our life, our everything.

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis, he states:

We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love.

I am reminded of the love of Don Quixote in the play “Man from La Mancha”. If God is our treasure he should be our Impossible Dream because we are His.

Ash Wednesday[1]

The solemn season begins with a reminder of our mortality and our profound need for repentance and conversion.[2]

Why is this day so called? Because on this day the Catholic Church blesses ashes and puts them on the foreheads of the faithful, saying, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou shall return” (Gen. iii. 19).

Why are the ashes blessed? 1. That all who receive them with a contrite heart may be preserved in soul and body. 2. That God may give them contrition, and pardon their sins. 3. That He may grant them all they humbly ask for, particularly the grace to do penance, and the reward promised to the truly penitent.

Why are the faithful sprinkled with ashes? The sprinkling with ashes was always a public sign of penance; as such God enjoined it upon the Israelites (Jer. xxv. 34). David sprinkled ashes on his beard (Ps. ci. 10). The Ninivites (Jonas iii. 6), Judith (Jud. ix. 1), Mardochai (Esther iv. 1), Job (xlii. 6), and others, did penance in sack-cloth and ashes. To show the spirit of penance and to move God to mercy, the Church, at the Introit of the Mass, uses the following words: “Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made, and winkest at the sins of men for the sake of repentance, and sparing them, for Thou art the Lord our God” (Wis. xi. 24, 25).

Instruction on Lent

What is the origin of fasting? Under the Old Law the Jews fasted by the command of God; thus Moses fasted forty days and forty nights, on Mount Sinai, when God gave him the Ten Commandments; Elias, in like manner, fasted in the desert. Jesus also fasted, and commanded His apostles to fast also. The Catholic Church, says St. Leo, from the time of the apostles, has enjoined fasting upon all the faithful.

Why has the Church instituted the fast before Easter? 1. To imitate Jesus Christ, Who fasted forty days. 2. To participate in His merits and passion; for as Christ could only be glorified through His sufferings, so in order to belong to Him we must follow Him by a life answering to His. 3. To subject the flesh to the spirit, and thus, 4, prepare ourselves for Easter and the worthy reception of the divine Lamb. 5. Finally, to offer to God some satisfaction for our sins, and, as St. Leo says, to atone for the sins of a whole year by a short fast of the tenth part of a year.

Was the fast of Lent kept in early times as it is now? Yes, only more rigorously; for: 1. The Christians of the early ages abstained not only from flesh-meat, but from those things which are produced from flesh, such as butter, eggs, cheese, and also from wine and fish. 2. They fasted during the whole day, and ate only after vespers, that is, at night.

How shall we keep the holy season of Lent with advantage? We should endeavor not only to deny ourselves food and drink, but, still more, all sinful gratifications. And as the body is weakened by fasting, the soul, on the other hand, should be strengthened by repeated prayers, by frequent reception of the holy sacraments, attending Mass, spiritual reading, and good works, particularly those of charity. In such manner we shall be able, according to the intention of the Church, to supply by our fasting what we have omitted during the year, especially if we fast willingly, and with a good intention.

Ash Wednesday Top Events and Things to Do[3]


 ·         Go to your local parish to get ashes and reflect on your own mortality and sinfulness.  Non-Christians are also welcome to get ashes.
·         Fast during Ash Wednesday to commemorate Jesus fasting for forty days in the desert.  Catholics are specifically instructed to not eat meat and are only permitted to eat one full meal.  However they may have 2 snacks in the form of some food in the morning and evening.
·         Make fiber-rich vegetarian versions of popular dishes.  Some good ideas are Veggie Burgers, Vegetarian Chili and salads with Tempeh.  The fiber will help keep you feeling full - useful if you fast for the rest of the day!
·         Rent a movie that reflects on Mortality or Repentance.  Some suggestions age: Les Miserables (2012), Dorian Gray (2009), What Dreams May Come (1998), Flatliners (1990) and The Seventh Seal (1957).
·         Discuss mortality, repentance and the meaning of life with your friends or with a church group.

Lent Calendar[4]

Read: Take inspiration for your Lenten journey from prayer and the reading of Scripture, from fasting and from giving alms. The fasting that we all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is an effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ. Start Lent off by watching this video, and get into the penitential spirit of the Lenten season.

Reflect: "By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gn 3:19)

Pray: "Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever." (Collect for Ash Wednesday)

Act: Have you picked up your Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl for Lent this year? Make a commitment to dropping in spare change every day.  Another way to give alms today is by giving to the National Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

Today is Valentine’s Day by his love you can see we truly are His Valentine. The idea of Valentine's Day seems to have originated during the Middle Ages, somewhere around the 14th or 15th century.  The holiday is named after a Saint Valentine who was martyred.  Chaucer, a famous poet, wrote about "Seynt Valentyne's day" in his famous Parliament of Foules.  Other historians attribute the holiday as a celebration of the life of Saint Valentine who lived in Constantinople 150 years after Constantine turned the city into a Christian one.  There was a pagan celebration on February 15th where lots of unmarried men chose a bride and were married on this day.  Married men didn't want to go to war, so Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade young men to marry.  Valentine ignored the decree and was executed on February 14, in the year A.D. 270.

Things to Do[5]

·         Read the Golden Legend account of St. Valentine's life.
·         Pray to St. Valentine for an increase of true, sacrificial love within marriages.
·         Make Valentines for those closest to you — your family and friends. If you have children, teach them to make valentines from red construction paper and doilies.
·         Begin to read and discuss some of St. John Paul II's works on marriage; for example, Love and Responsibility or his The Theology of the Body Human Love in the Divine Plan (Parish Resources).

N  Today is also International Condom Day in which our secular brothers and sisters seek to promote the use of condoms as a means of preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STI's) rather than the moderation of the passions.  It is an informal observance celebrated in conjunction with Valentine's Day.  The holiday is also promoted by the AHF (AIDS Healthcare Foundation) in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV thru safe sex practices.[6]

Prayer before the Crucifix[7]

This prayer is designed to be said within the family before a Crucifix from Ash Wednesday to Saturday at the beginning of Lent.

Prayer

Mother or a child: From the words of St. John the Evangelist (14:1-6).
Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself, that where I am, there you also may be. And where I go, you know, and the way you know.
Father: We ought to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
Family: in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection.
Father: Let us pray. Grant to your faithful, Lord, a spirit generous enough to begin these solemn fasts with proper fervor and to pursue them with steadfast devotion. This we ask of you through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.
Family: Amen. Favor this dwelling, Lord, with your presence. Far from it repulse all the wiles of Satan. Your holy angels—let them live here, to keep us in peace. And may your blessing remain always upon us. This we ask of you through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.
Father: Let us bless the Lord.
Family: Thanks be to God.
Father: May the almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless and keep us.
Family: Amen.
Prayer Source: Holy Lent by Eileen O'Callaghan, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1975




The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage[8]

Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both.

Unitive

Pope John Paul II‘s theology of the body speaks of the human body as having a spousal significance. This means that the human body by its very nature signifies that we humans are directed to relationship—that we are to seek union with others. For it is only in relationship that we achieve a true wholeness as a communion of persons. Before Eve was created, Adam was alone. His joy upon perceiving Eve indicated that with Eve he achieved the―original unity that human nature seeks. God clearly made human beings to love and to be loved, to be in relationships wherein the act of giving oneself and receiving the other becomes complete. In this context, the word ―original means not only that these experiences go back to the dawn of human history but, more importantly, that they are key to understanding our most basic human experiences. The experience of Adam and Eve speaks powerfully to our search not only to understand ourselves but also to love and be loved, to be in a relationship of love with a person of the opposite sex. God established marriage so that man and woman could participate in his love and thus selflessly give themselves to each other in love. A man and a woman who by their act of consent are no longer two but one flesh (see Mt 19:6ff.) render mutual help and service to each other through an intimate union of their persons and of their actions.―My lover belongs to me and I to him (Song 2:16; see Song6:3).With all the dignity and simplicity of poetry, the Bride in the Song of Songs sings of the unitive meaning of married love.―You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride. . . . How beautiful is your love! (Song 4:9-10). So responds the Bridegroom of the Song, overcome with the wonder of conjugal love that is extended to him by the Bride. This is the love that is strong as death (see Song 8:6b). Just as beautifully, Tobiah prays with his wife, Sarah, on their wedding night, awestruck at the mercy of the God of their fathers, that is, the God of the covenant, in bringing them together in a union of true conjugal love: Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ―It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself. Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age. (Tb 8:5-7) The love that is as strong as death is the love that prays and praises, caught up into divine love.

Procreative

It is the nature of love to overflow, to be life-giving. Thus, it is no surprise that marriage is ordained not only to growing in love but to transmitting life: ―by its very nature the institution of marriage and married love [is]ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory. Married love itself is ordered to the procreation of children, for, after all, the first command given to Adam and Eve is―be fertile and multiply (Gn 1:28). Tobiah‘s prayer, even as it asks for a happy and lifelong union, remembers that the human race descended from Adam and Eve. His prayer for happiness certainly includes, even if implicitly, a prayer for offspring. God indeed sends the couple seven sons (Tb 14:3) and long life (Tb 14:14). Again, in the words of the Second Vatican Council: Children are the supreme gift of marriage. . . . Without intending to underestimate the other ends of marriage, it must be said that true married love and the family life which flows from it have this end in view: that the spouses would cooperate generously with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will in due time increase and enrich his family. Children are a gift in a myriad of ways. They bring joy even in the midst of heartaches; they give added direction to the lives of their parents. Children, who are the fruit of love and meaningful commitment, are a cause of love and meaning. It is true that some marriages will not result in procreation due to infertility, even though the couple is capable of the natural act by which procreation takes place. Indeed, this situation often comes as a surprise and can be a source of deep disappointment, anxiety, and even great suffering for a husband and wife. When such tragedy affects a marriage, a couple may be tempted to think that their union is not complete or truly blessed. This is not true. The marital union of a man and a woman is a distinctive communion of persons. An infertile couple continues to manifest this attribute. Even when their child-bearing years have passed, a couple should continue to be life-affirming. They can do this by staying involved in the lives of young people, and especially their grandchildren, as spiritual mentors, teachers, and wisdom figures. They can also continue to be nurturing through the exercise of care for those who are needy, disabled, or pushed to the margins of society, and by their support for or participation in works of charity and justice.


Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Nineveh 90 Day 45
·         Manhood of the Master-Day 4 week 3
·         Please pray for me and this ministry

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