February 14, 2024 1:00 pm

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ASH WEDNESDAY- The first day of Lent

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving: these disciplines, prescribed by Jesus himself in the Sermon on the Mount, along with strict instructions not to flaunt them in public to win recognition and praise (Matthew 6:1-18), have been embraced by all the saints at the beginning of every Lent for almost two thousand years. But mention Lent, and many react with a grimace or slight shudder—even now, years after official obligations have been reduced to a minimum! No wonder the Eastern Rite’s “Lenten Announcement” sounds surprising: “Let us receive with joy, O faithful people, the divinely inspired announcement of Lent! The Lenten Spring shines forth! Begin the fast with joy! Let us fast from passions as well as food, taking pleasure in the good works of the Spirit, and accomplishing them in love!” Saint John Chrysostom, whose feast is September 13, elaborates: “Do you fast? Give proof by your works. If you see a poor person, take pity. An enemy, be reconciled. A friend gaining honor, don’t be jealous.” A positive approach! May the saints help us keep such a Lent!

(Peter Scagnelli, Diocesan Publications)