Ash Wednesday Approaches

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/02/17 at 9:11 AM

•  Ash Wednesday – marks the beginning of our annual pilgrimage through the Lenten desert to that glorious promised land of Easter.

•  Ash Wednesday  is the day each year in which we renew our pursuit of holiness with greater intensity using the simple tools of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

• Ash Wednesday is also the day of the year when we take a good, long, hard look at ourselves, reflecting on our personal sinfulness and failures in the moral life and making the decision to sin no more.

• And the ashes that we wear today are the outward sign of our repentance – of our desire to be reconciled. They are the sign of our desire to turn away from sin so that we might be faithful to the Gospel.

• The ashes that we wear today symbolize our recognition that we are sinners, and that without God’s grace and mercy, we are nothing more than dust, and unto dust we shall return.

• The ashes we wear on our foreheads today are a sign of our desire and our intention to unite ourselves to our Lord’s passion and death during Lent so that we may be united to His resurrection at Easter.

• But I encourage you to wear your ashes today as a sign of something else as well.

• There is a great sickness in our society, a sickness that has afflicted our western society for many centuries. And that sickness is selfishness. We have become a very self-centered and self-absorbed society, and this sickness is leading us to spiritual death.

• We are constantly bombarded in our world today with the message that we need to take care of ourselves first. We are encouraged constantly to indulge ourselves, to spoil ourselves, and that we deserve whatever luxury we can afford.

• We are even told that we can determine for ourselves what is right and wrong, taking our self-centeredness to new heights of depravity. And in doing all of this, we make ourselves to be gods, for self-indulgence, my friends, is just a way of worshipping ourselves.

• Yet as Catholics we know that selfishness is the heart of all sin. Like Christ whom we worship and adore, we know that we are called not to be self-centered, but other-centered, placing the needs and desires of others before our own.

• We are called, of course, to share our goods with others and to sacrifice for the good of others. But we also called to think about the feelings of others before we speak, to defend others when they are in danger, and to encourage others in the pursuit of holiness.

• And honestly, my friends, if everyone in the world were focused on the needs of others, no one would ever be lacking in anything.

• Thus, I encourage you today to wear these ashes not only as a sign of turning away from sin, but also as a sign of turning away from self.

• And in turning away from self so that we might serve others, let us hope that our Father in Heaven who sees what goodness is hidden in our hearts will repay us. May our Father in Heaven have mercy on us all this Lenten season.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC


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