Ash Wednesday – Little Black Spot on Your Head Today

Ashes to Ashes – Remember O Man That Thou Art Dust

compliments of flickr

by Molly Sheckler

Imposition of Ashes - Brent Rollings

Helping Jesus Carry the Cross

Reflection on The Fifth Station: Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross.

Who can understand the humility of God who holds power over the whole universe and yet enlists the help of a Simon to help Him carry His Cross.  Richard Garnaut says:

I imagine Simon was reluctant to take part in your shame.  He had no idea at all (that those)who watched and jeered at him would pass into oblivion,  while his name would go down in history and eternity as the one who helped his God in need.

Is it not so with me, dear Jesus? Even when I carry my cross reluctantly as Simon did it benefits my soul. If I keep my eyes on you and watch how you suffered, I will be able to bear my cross with greater fortitude.

You bore the Cross and looked on it and held it fondly before you passed it on to me.  You watch me and give me strength just as you did Simon.  When I enter your kingdom, I shall know just as Simon knows, what marvels your Cross has wrought in my soul.

Lent – Refresh Your Soul

From the Discourses against the Arians by Saint Athanasius, bishop (Oratio 2, 78. 81-82: PG 26, 311. 319)
We know the Father through creative and incarnate Wisdom

The only-begotten Son, the Wisdom of God, created the entire universe. Scripture says: You have made all things by your wisdom, and the earth is full of your creatures. Yet simply to be was not enough: God also wanted his creatures to be good. That is why he was pleased that his own wisdom should descend to their level and impress upon each of them singly and upon all of them together a certain resemblance to their Model. It would then be manifest that Gods creatures shared in his wisdom and that his works were worthy of him.

For as the word we speak is an image of the Word who is Gods Son, so also is the wisdom implanted in us an image of the Wisdom who is Gods Son. It gives us the ability to know and understand and so makes us capable of receiving him who is all-creative Wisdom, through whom we can come to know the Father. Whoever has the Son has the Father also, Scripture says, and Whoever receives me receives the One who sent me. And so, since this image of the Wisdom of God has been produced in us and in all creatures, the true and creative Wisdom rightly takes to himself what applies to his image and says: The Lord created me in his works.

But because the world was not wise enough to recognize God in his wisdom, as we have explained it, God determined to save those who believe by means of the foolish message that we preach. Not wishing to be known any longer, as in former times, through the mere image and shadow of his wisdom existing in creatures, he caused the true Wisdom himself to take flesh, to become man, and to suffer death on the cross so that all who believed in him might be saved by faith.

Yet this was the same Wisdom of God who had in the beginning revealed himself and his Father through himself by means of his image in creatures (which is why Wisdom to is said to be created). Later, as John declares, that Wisdom, who is also the Word, became flesh, and after destroying the power of death and saving our race, he revealed himself and his Father through himself with greater clarity. Grant, he prayed, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. So now the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of God, since it is one and the same thing to know the Father through the Son, and to know the Son who comes from the Father. The Father rejoices in his Son, and with the same joy the Son delights in the Father and says: I was his joy; every day I took delight in his presence.

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Ash Wednesday – Lent – God’s Open Heart

From a letter to the Corinthians by Saint Clement, pope
(Cap. 7, 48, 3; 8, 59, 1; 13, 1-4; 19, 2: Funk 1, 71-73. 77-78. 87) Repent

Let us fix our attention on the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to God his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.

If we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has offered the opportunity of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached Gods message of repentance, all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed, but when they repented, their prayers gained Gods forgiveness for their sins, and they were saved, even though they were not of Gods people.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of Gods grace have spoken of repentance; indeed, the Master of the whole universe himself spoke of repentance with an oath: As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the death of the sinner but his repentance. He added this evidence of his goodness: House of Israel, repent of your wickedness. Tell the sons of my people: If their sins should reach from earth to heaven, if they are brighter than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, you need only turn to me with your whole heart and say, Father, and I will listen to you as a holy people.

In other words, God wanted all his beloved ones to have the opportunity to repent and he confirmed this desire by his own almighty will. That is why we should obey his sovereign and glorious will and prayerfully entreat his mercy and kindness. We should be suppliant before him and turn to his compassion, rejecting empty works and quarrelling and jealousy which only lead to death.

Brothers, we should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: The wise man must not glory in his wisdom nor the strong man in his strength nor the rich man in his riches. Rather, let him who glories glory in the Lord by seeking him and doing what is right and just. Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. Be merciful, he said, so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving. Let these commandments and precepts strengthen us to live in humble obedience to his sacred words. As Scripture asks: Whom shall I look upon with favor except the humble, peaceful man who trembles at my words?

Sharing then in the heritage of so many vast and glorious achievements, let us hasten toward the goal of peace, set before us from the beginning. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Father and Creator of the whole universe, and hold fast to his splendid and transcendent gifts of peace and all his blessings.

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