Every day, we need to go to our quiet place...

Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:

February 9, A.D. 2005

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

A brief reflection on today's Scripture passages:

As the Church enters into the holiest of seasons, the Lenten season, one is struck by the first reading from Joel. Anyone could spend the whole of Lent meditating on the first sentences which include "return to me with your WHOLE HEART." Many of us were raised with the concept that Lent was a time to give up something, like candy or our most favorite vegetable. The first reading emphasizes, yes, that we do give up something: namely ourselves in our ongoing act of love. Love means letting go, in this case, to LOVE. Some people, if they are honest with themselves might even ask if they want to do so; do they really want to give their WHOLE HEART to God? It is a serious question.

The psalm and part of the second reading bring up the reality that we all are in need of the endless mercy of God. Not only do we turn to Him with our own love, but with our honest request for His mercy, for the times when we have failed. If we ask Love Himself to consume us, we want our 'house' to be in order. We cannot be divided, serving two masters.

The conclusion of the second reading and the gospel remind us that we give ourselves totally to God; not just for our own advantages, but rather "on behalf of Christ" in order that we continue His mission. These 'good deeds'are to be done so others do not see them. Likewise, our prayer is to be in private; but that these things will not go unnoticed by our Father.

Are we ready to give our WHOLE HEART to God?

- Joan of Jesus, OCDS (jmurphy at utica dot edu)

Lives of the saints:

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Editoršs note: These regulations (below) can be considered a good guideline if youšre unable to find the official regulations from your own diocese.

It is good to keep in mind 'why' we are doing these things. Out of love for our Lord Jesus, to humble ourselves for the gifts of His Love, Mercy, and Redemption.

Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years old and older on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays of Lent.

Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. Those who are bound by this may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to onešs needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.

By the threefold discipline of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the Church keeps Lent from Ash Wednesday until the evening of Holy Thursday. All of the faithful and the catechumens should undertake serious practice of these three traditions. Failure to observe any penitential days at all or a substantial number of such days must be considered serious.

After they have been initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, all the faithful are bound by the obligation of receiving Communion at least once a year. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season, unless for a good reason it is fulfilled at another time during the year. This obligation may be fulfilled between February 13 (First Sunday in Lent) and May 22 (Trinity Sunday).

a. RECONCILIATION: Catholics are bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year (Canon 989).

b. OTHER FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR: Catholics should be reminded that all other Fridays of the year remain as days of penance, in prayerful remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ.

c. OBLIGATION: The obligation which we have as members of the Church to do penance is a serious one. Furthermore, the obligation to observe, as a whole or "substantially," the penitential days specified by the Church is a serious one.

d. While no one should hold himself or herself lightly excused, one should not become unduly scrupulous. Failure to observe individual days of penance is less serious than the failure to observe any penitential days at all or a substantial number of such days.

In the name of peace, and in union with the Bishops of the United States of America, the faithful are invited to add voluntary fasting to the practice of penance during the Fridays of the year. Together with works of charity and service toward our neighbors, this practice would become a sign of our commitment to conversion, reconciliation and peace. (The Challenge of Peace, Art. 298).

Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:


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