Ash Wednesday

St. Augustine of Hippo in one of his most beautiful books tells us that there are two kinds of people and two kinds of love: «One is holy, the other is selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him»[1]. We are what we love. God wants to free our hearts from all that would keep us captive to selfishness and sin[2].

During this season of Lent God wants to set our hearts burning with the fire of his Holy Spirit. With this celebration let us remember that the Holy Spirit is ever and always ready to transform our hearts.

In the gospel Our Lord warns his disciples of self-seeking glory. True piety is something more than feeling good or looking holy. True piety is loving devotion to God. It is an attitude of reverence, worship and obedience.

May St. Augustine's prayer, recorded in his Confessions, be our prayer today and during all this Lent: When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrows or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete.

We are called to journey with the Lord in a special season of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and penitence as we prepare to celebrate the feast of our Redemption: Easter.

As we begin this holy season of testing and preparation, let's ask the Lord for a fresh outpouring of his Holy Spirit that we may grow in faith, hope, and love and embrace his will more fully in our lives ■

[1] The City of God (Latin: De Civitate Dei, also known as De Civitate Dei contra Paganos, "The City of God against the Pagans") was written in the early 5th century, dealing with issues concerning God, martyrdom, Jews, and other Christian philosophies.
[2] Wednesday 25th February, 2009, Ash Wednesday. Day of fast and abstinence. Readings: Joel 2:12-18. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned—Ps 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17. 2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:2. Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18.

Ilustration: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Simeon and Anna Recognize the Lord in Jesus, c. 1627Oil on wood, 56 x 44 cmKunsthalle (Hamburg)

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris