Posted by: fvbcdm | February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday (22 Feb 2012)

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent.  If Lent, which is a movable season, did not begin today, it would be the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, that is, the feast on which we celebrate the authority given to St. Peter and his successors, the popes, whereby they teach us with the authority of Our Lord Jesus Himself. 


But back to Ash Wednesday.  This morning, as our community of priests here at Holy Rosary in Houston, gathered for our weekly community Mass, we were confronted with a seeming contradiction.  In the liturgy of Ash Wednesday, ashes are blessed and then imposed upon the foreheads of the faithful, including the clergy.  So right now, I still have a black smudge on my face.  But then, in the gospel of today’s Mass, Our Lord tells us, “When you fast, don’t look gloomy like the hypocrites; wash your face so as not to appear to be fasting except to your Father who is hidden.  And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”  

So, what should we do?  Leave the ashes on our faces, or wash them off?  I suggest a compromise.  Since today is Ash Wednesday, leave them on your face for today if you wish.  It will remind many who see you that today we begin the season of Lent and let them know how important Lent is to you.  But then, for the rest of Lent, don’t let it be known, except perhaps to your family or close friends, that you are performing works of self-denial.  Let it be a kind of secret between you and our Lord. It is very nice to share secrets like that with him, since he will repay you far more richly than others can by simply admiring you because of your Lenten practices—if indeed they admire you at all!  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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