Break your Heart this Ash Wednesday

“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing” – Joel 2:12-18

Gracious, Merciful, Kind, and Forgiving are not normally adjectives we would use to describe  Ash Wednesday, let alone the Lenten Season. Yet that is exactly how God is described in the First Reading from Joel this morning and I daresay that we can use those same words to describe this Ash Wednesday and this Season of Lenten journey we are embarking on.

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Ash Wednesday, like Good Friday is a day of what Canon 1251 stipulates as being a day of fasting and abstinence. With Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day this year it can be upsetting for some to not be able to celebrate the day of “love” with the love of their life. Yet, this year we have an opportunity to celebrate this day of love with an ultimate act of love toward the one we should love above all else.

Fasting and abstinence help us to deny our carnal passions and desires and take control with our will over what our bodies seek. The hunger in our bellies, growling away all day helps us to realize that we hunger for something, for someone greater than what food can satisfy. Abstaining from meat gives us the opportunity to offer a small sacrifice, to give a small gift to the one we love as a testament of that love.

“Rend your hearts” Joel instructs us. When was the last time that you were heartbroken during Lent? When was the last time that your heart was rent, was broken for love of the one you truly love? How are we to “return to the Lord our God?” by realizing that thirst in our Heart, in our Souls for the living God.

This Lent, this Ash Wednesday, may we turn back to God. May we turn ourselves completely toward the Lord, allowing the growl of our bellies to speak of the thirst and hunger of our souls for Him who can satisfy every longing under Heaven. May our sacrifices, our weeping, our mourning be small gifts to the King of Kings; jewels to be added in our crowns at the day of resurrection.

Let’s make this Lent one of kindness to our neighbor, mercy on ourselves, slow to anger, rich in compassion, an one of forgiveness. For our God is a gracious God and he will surely leave us a blessing for the good we do this Lent.

Celebrate Ash Wednesday and St. Valentine’s Day with the one we truly love above all else this year. May our hearts be broken, rent with love of him, who had his own heart broken, pierced with a lance on a cross because of our sins.

Let’s learn to Love this Lent.

And let’s pray for one another as we continue to walk this beautiful Lenten Journey together!

 

Bishop Medley’s Lenten Message: The Light is on for you

I shared this on my Facebook wall a couple of weeks ago, and thought that I would share it here as well. The Light is on for You is a great opportunity that our Diocese has been participating in during the penitential season of Lent. It is an open invitation and opportunity, to go to confession, and receive God’s mercy and grace. We are bound by the church law to confess our sins only once per year, during the Lenten season. Why not go more, though? The graces that we receive from the Sacrament of Confession and reconciliation are immense.They bestow grace upon us and help us to live our lives more faithfully to the Gospel.
When we sin, our sin does not just affect our relationship with god, rather it also affects our relationship with the community and the church. Sin, is selfish by nature. It does not focus on the good of ourselves and others, rather it focus on temporal moments of pleasure for ourselves, most of the time the results then hurt others, directly or indirectly. We, as Catholics confess our sins to the priest, for multiple reasons. One, it is private, very few people would ever want to go in front of their whole church and tell them their list of sins, it’s embarrassing. Telling our sins to a priest helps make it easier, yet, because we are sharing, we are vulnerable and it takes some humility to bear our sins to another. Secondly, the priest represents the power of the church, to whom Christ gave the power to forgive sins. (Remember when he gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom? He said: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”) Thirdly, the priest represents the community. He stands as the leader of the local church, and is able to represent them. So when we confess our sins to a priest, we receive forgiveness through the power of the church, confess in secret, making it something that we feel comfortable doing, and we bear witness to the community, through the priest standing in their place.

At the end of time, we are judged twice. Once at the moment of death, when we receive Heaven or Hell, and lastly at the end of time where we bear witness to our sins before the whole body of people in the world.

Try to go to confession at least once a month. Reconcile your soul to God, his church, and the community. Make this Lent a good one. Come home!