Posted by: fvbcdm | March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday (1 March 2017)

As I sit at my computer to compose this message, we have just celebrated our community Mass here in Holy Rosary Priory, Houston.  The black smudge of ashes is still on my forehead, and just about now, our Holy Father is going to our Dominican headquarters at the ancient basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill which is the so-called “stational church” for Ash Wednesday.  In the middle ages, the Pope often went to the various stational churches in and around Rome to celebrate particular feastdays.  Santa Sabina, which was given to our founding father Saint Dominic by Pope Honorius III when he approved our Order in the year 1216, became the stational church for Ash Wednesday.  Recently, the Popes have begun to revive that tradition and thus Santa Sabina becomes the focal point of the eyes of the Catholic world on Ash Wednesday.

Let’s think for a few moments: what is the connection of the holy season of Lent with the practice of penance?  Why should we do things like fasting, abstinence, and other forms of mortification especially at this time of the year?  Follow with me the logic of penance:

  1. God wants us to be like himself.

  2. To be like God means to be holy and sinless.

  3. Unfortunately, original sin has weakened the human will and made it difficult to be holy and sinless.

  4. We are all to some degree sinful and less holy than we should be.

  5. Since we are not all holy, we can all be repentant, that is, we can regret our sins and realize our guilt.

  6. We wish to atone for that guilt.

  7. We make that atonement by practices like fasting, abstaining, and other forms of self-denial.

  8. Self-denial is opposed to self-indulgence.  The former brings virtue; the latter brings sin.

So, let us embark today upon the holy season of Lent, of atonement, of self-denial, and of seeking after godliness and virtue. There is no better way of preparing for the great Christian festival of Easter in which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb after his supreme act of atonement for our sins, namely, his death on the cross. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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