Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
February 6, A.D. 2008
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
A reflection on today's Scripture:
When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. (Matthew 6:6)
Ash Wednesday allows us to practice what Jesus taught as we observe this first day of Lent. We fast and receive God's blessing with ashes on our foreheads to express our sorrow for offending Him. Today's Gospel reading invites us to do this with sincerity, asking our Father for forgiveness openly and honestly, but from the inner rooms of our hearts.
When Jesus taught His disciples how to fast, pray and practice good deeds in a manner most pleasing to our Father, He said they shouldn't act like the hypocrites who made sure others saw them, so as to win their praise. The hypocrites received the praise they pined for, but that was it for them, Jesus warned, "They have received their reward."
When the praise of man is our only incentive to do good, then the praise of man is all we'll get. On the other hand, if our acts are done from the heart with the intent that only our Father see them, a most excellent reward comes to us, "and your Father who sees in secret will repay you." What we receive from delighting our Father is lasting. Our recompense begins immediately with His grace and continues on for eternity—what could be better?
Not everyone can distinguish sincerity, but our Heavenly Father sees everything. Let us humbly speak with faith to the One who knows of our hunger, hears our every prayer, sees our every deed, forgives us of everything and rewards us greatly.
- Elizabeth A. Tichvon |
DAILY MEDITATIONS SUPPLEMENT: LENT 2008
Ash Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Editor’s note: These regulations can be considered a good guideline if you’re unable to find the official regulations from your own parish or diocese.
Lent is the penitential season of the Church's year. This year it begins on Ash Wednesday, February 6 and ends with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, March 20. Lent has six Sundays. The sixth is called Passion or Palm Sunday and marks the beginning of Holy Week.
The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. It commemorates the Lord's passion and death on Good Friday, reaches its high point at the Easter Vigil, and ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. Then the joyful Easter Season of 50 days begins.
Traditionally, the Lenten season is a time of penance throughout the Catholic Church. Lent is a season in which prayer, the reception of the sacraments, charity and almsgiving are emphasized. Fast and abstinence are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. All the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.
The specific discipline of the Church in the United States regarding penitential days is as follows:
REGULATIONS for LENT:
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 and Good Friday by all Catholics who are between the ages of 18 and 59 inclusive. Those who are bound by this may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to one’s 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 received their First Holy Communion, Catholics 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 the First Sunday in Lent and Trinity Sunday.
THE FOLLOWING SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED:
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. EASTER DUTY 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. Catholics are also bound to confess serious (mortal) sins at least once a year, but this is not limited to the Lenten/Easter Season.
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).
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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