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March 1, 2017

Lenten reflection, Ash Wednesday

Ash WednesdayThe prophet Joel proclaims Lent as a season of the heart:

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 (Joel 2:12-13).

The word rend is related to rind, the tough skin around an orange or lemon. Lent invites us to peel away whatever has toughened our hearts through the symbolic act of fasting, creating an inner emptiness and open space. Then the two other traditional Lenten practices come into play, making space for God through prayer and for others through almsgiving.

A vulnerable heart, now reopened to God and to those in need, is a heart renewed. 

The reason for the season is conversion, a heart turned toward God and others, allowing love to flow into and out of it. 

Paul declares, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” God sends us as advocates of reconciliation. 

Then the world will be renewed—when hatred is transformed to forgiveness; injustice turns to living in right relationship with God, others, and this good earth; and the paschal light of Easter’s risen Lord drives out the darkness of selfishness and sin. 

Father James A. Wallace, C.Ss.R.
Long Branch, N.J.

Scripture readings for today: Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18



Who are the Redemptorists?

Two thousand years ago Jesus said, “He sent me to preach the Good News to the poor.” Since 1732 the Redemptorists have followed in His footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned. Our congregation of missionary priests and brothers was founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori. Like the first Apostles, our mission—and our joy—is bringing the message of salvation to all people. As Redemptorists, we have a special devotion to crib, cross, Mary, and the Eucharist. To learn more, explore our website and connect with us on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

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