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Ash Wednesday: Lent Begins

Ash Wednesday

First Reading: Joel 2:12-18

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,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

NAB

feb 10

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling like I’ve just started to recover from the joyous celebrations and messes and stresses of Christmas, and here we are with Lent already beginning today. I’m not ready.

Maybe that’s the point. I’m not ready, not prepared, and yet, now is the time. Saint Paul’s words to the Corinthians truly are just as much for me, today, in 2016, as they were for the people of Corinth 2000 years ago.

NOW is an acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation.

I may not feel ready for Lent, but ooooh, how much my soul needs Lent. I need God’s mercy. I need to return to the Father of mercy and forgiveness. I need to rend my heart, to fast, and to pray. God knows that, too. He’s ready and waiting for me to turn to him.

Let me be so bold as to say, I hope this is my best Lent yet. Can I issue that challenge to you, too? Sisters, it is the Year of Mercy. What is Lent if it is not about experiencing God’s unending mercy?

For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.

Be washed in mercy this Lent, by receiving forgiveness in the sacrament of Reconciliation and participation in the Mass. Be an instrument of mercy this Lent, by doing spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Because, if not now, when? Now is always the best time to let God’s mercy be at work in our lives.

Sit with these readings today. Allow yourself even 5 minutes of quiet and stillness, and begin to turn your heart towards the God of mercy who is longing to shower you in grace and mercy. Use these weeks of Lent to get to know the Divine Mercy. Speak the words “Jesus, I trust in you,” and let Him fill your life with mercy.

photo by Sydney Marie Photography

Gina Fensterer is a wife, daughter, mother, friend, homeschooling mama and Colorado native. You can find out more about her here.

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