Extracted from the 2nd letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christís name is: be reconciled to God.
For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.
As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.
Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 6:1-6,16-18:
Jesus said to his disciples:
††††††††††††† †ĎBe careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win menís admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
††††††††††††† †ĎAnd when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
† ††††††††††† ĎWhen you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.í
It would be Ash Wednesday on 13 February 2013, here are the Readings in Holy Mass to be read in the Universal Church around the world:
1st Reading: Joel 2:12-18 (see previous page);
Responsorial: Psalm 51:3-6,12-14,17 (see previous page);
2nd Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 (see above) &
Gospel Reading: Matthew 6:1-6,16-18 (see above).
We have extracted the past Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II & Pope Benedict XVI to share with you so that you would similarly be encouraged:
CELEBRATION OF THE WORD IN ST PETER'S BASILICA
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Ash Wednesday, 25 February 2004
1. "Your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6: 4, 6, 18). Jesus' words are addressed to each one of us at the beginning of our Lenten journey. We begin it with the imposition of ashes, an austere penitential gesture very dear to Christian tradition. It emphasizes the awareness of sinners as they stand before the majesty and holiness of God. At the same time, it demonstrates readiness to accept and to transform into concrete choices adherence to the Gospel.
The formulas that accompany it are very eloquent. The first, from the Book of Genesis: "You are dust and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3: 19), calls to mind the present human condition, marked by transitoriness and limitation. The second one takes up the words of the Gospel: "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1: 15), which are a pressing appeal to change one's life. Both these formulas invite us to enter Lent in an attitude of listening and sincere conversion.
2. The Gospel emphasizes that the Lord "sees in secret", that is, he scrutinizes our hearts. The external gestures of penance are valuable if they are an expression of an inner attitude and demonstrate the firm determination to shun evil and to take the path of righteousness. This is the profound sense of Christian ascesis.
"Ascesis": the very word evokes the image of ascending to lofty heights. This necessarily entails sacrifices and renunciation. Indeed, to make the journey easier, one must be reduced to the bare essentials; to be prepared to face every hardship and overcome every obstacle in order to reach the pre-established goal. To become authentic disciples of Christ, it is necessary to deny oneself, take up one's cross and follow him (cf. Luke 9: 23). This is the arduous path to holiness that every baptized person is called to follow.
3. The Church has always pointed out certain useful means for taking this route. They consist above all in humble and docile adherence to God's will accompanied by ceaseless prayer; they are the typical forms of penance of Christian tradition, such as abstinence, fasting, mortification and giving up even good things legitimate in themselves; they are the concrete acts of acceptance of our neighbour that are referred to in today's Gospel with the term "giving alms". All these things are suggested once again but with greater intensity during the season of Lent, which in this regard is a "strong moment" for spiritual training and generous service to our brothers and sisters.
4. In my Lenten Message, by recalling Christ's words: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Matthew 18: 5), I wanted to draw special attention to the difficult conditions in which so many of the world's children live. Indeed, who needs to be defended and protected more than a frail and defenseless little child?
The world of childhood is beset by many complex problems. I warmly hope that our solidarity will mean that proper care is given to these, the smallest of our brethren, who are often left to themselves. This is a concrete way of expressing our Lenten resolve.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us begin Lent with these sentiments: it is a journey of prayer, penance and genuine Christian ascesis. May Mary, Mother of Christ, go with us. May her example and intercession help us to proceed joyfully on our way towards Easter.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of Godís encouragements to all of us.
HOLY MASS, BLESSING AND IMPOSITION OF THE ASHES
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Basilica of St Sabina
With this day of penance and fasting ó Ash Wednesday ó we are beginning a new journey to the Resurrection at Easter: the journey of Lent. I would like to reflect briefly on the liturgical symbol of Ashes, a material sign, a natural element, which in the liturgy becomes a sacred symbol, very important on this day which marks the beginning of the Lenten journey. In ancient times, in the Jewish culture, it was common practice to sprinkle ashes on oneís head as a sign of penance, and often also to dress in sack-cloth or rags. Instead, for us Christians this is a special moment which has considerable ritual and spiritual importance.
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