Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Right Around the Corner

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

Why we receive the ashes

We receive ashes because they are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

To go along with these practices of penance during lent, we Catholics have also been taught that we should make an examination of conscience every day before we retire for the evening. And lent is a great time to get into the habit of examining our consciences for the next 40 days along with prayer and fasting so that we can put it into practice the rest of the year.

This year we need to focus our prayers to fight abortion and to offer up our sufferings to God in reparation for the sins of those who promote abortion, starting with the Catholic pro-choice politicians and pray that they will not be enacting the FOCA bill that will destroy a lot of freedoms along with the unborn.

So, to overcome our failings during lent, we must know them. We must do a daily check of our service to God so that we begin to know what we must watch, in order to root out of our lives imperfect or sinful habits. Below are some suggestions.
  • Have I tried to live this day mindful of the presence of God?
  • Have I tried in all things to do His will?
  • Have I murmured or been impatient with the reverses or the difficulties I have met?
  • Have I been guilty of any act or word contrary to truth, honesty or purity?
  • Have I given way to pride, envy or hatred?
  • Have I spoken of the faults of others?
  • Have I hurt anyone's feelings by my words or actions?
  • Have I encouraged those who were speaking of the faults of others?
  • Have I been seriously trying today to lead a holy life - by avoiding sin, loving God, and being concerned for all with whom I come in contact?
  • Do I live selfishly, as though the people with whom I come in contact did not matter to me?
  • Am I concerned over the salvation of the souls of those around me?
  • Am I willing to inconvenience myself to help others?
  • Am I kind only to my friends, or do I help also my enemies?
Here is a nice Act of Contrition we can pray each day as well. It's a little different than the usual one we say at Confession.
Have mercy on me, according to Thy great mercy. Behold, I am deeply sorry for all my sins, because I have deserved to be punished by Thee, the all-knowing and just Judge, in this life and in the life to come, but much more because I have offended and grieved Thee, the most high and most loveable Good.

And according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my iniquities. Cast me not away from thy face, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. I am firmly resolved never to offend Thee again. Help me with Thy grace. O Jesus, for Thee I live; O Jesus, for Thee I die; O Jesus, I am Thine in life and death. Amen!