As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...
'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us.
What are we to repent?
Our indifference, our hardness of heart.
What are we to believe?
Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor --
He knows your weakness.
He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you. - St. Teresa of Calcutta
"A Community of Faith, Working through Love" GAL 5:6

Ash Wednesday

First Reading
Joel 2:12-18
Return to the Lord for he is merciful.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 51:3-6b,12-14,17
Create a clean heart in us, O God, and be merciful.

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Be reconciled to God; now is the day of salvation.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Jesus teaches that almsgiving, prayer, and fasting should be done in secret.
Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the liturgical season of Lent. In this season, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the high point of our Christian life, Easter. Each year, the readings for Ash Wednesday are the same. They call us to a change of heart and teach us about the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These disciplines are to be part of the Christian life during every season, but during the season of Lent, we renew our commitment to them.
The meaning behind tracing a cross on our foreheads with ashes (the liturgical sign of Ash Wednesday) is a summary of our Christian life. On one level, the ashes remind us of our origin and our death. (In the words of the prayer said when we receive ashes: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”) The ashes are also the sign of our victory: the cross of Christ. In his death and resurrection, Christ conquered death. Our destiny as Christians is to receive the victory over death that Christ won for us. We acknowledge that victory when we “[t]urn away from sin and [are] faithful to the gospel,” words from the alternative prayer when we are signed with ashes.
Today’s reading is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In the sermon, Jesus warns his followers against acting for the sake of appearance. When Jesus’ disciples give alms, pray, and fast, they are to do so in such a way that only God, who sees the heart and knows what is hidden, will know. Although our Lectionary reading omits the Lord’s Prayer, we can recall that Matthew presents that prayer as a model for the disciples’ prayer (Matthew 6:9-15).
It seems like heading into Lent this week happened very quickly. How can it already be Ash Wednesday? As much as I like Ordinary Time of the year I do also like the solitude of Lent. Growing up we always were taught to give something we loved up for lent. To do penance. To go without. Usually, I would give up chocolate as I do really enjoy it! Everyone in the family would give something up. I remember my daddy always gave up candy. It wasn’t that we had chocolate and candy that often but when you give it up, it seems like that’s just when you want it. Something else we always did during Lent was draw names. Everyone’s name went into a hat then you drew out a name. That week you had to be especially nice to that person or help them with a chore maybe, all the while not telling anyone whose name you had that week. Depending on whose name you got that could be an easy task or a harder one. Well, my best friend Susan, who was protestant, told her family about this thing we did during Lent. Her family thought it sounded like something they could do. Tommy her big brother jumped up and said he’d make the slips of paper. First Susan drew a name and kind of groaned, then Wendy, same reaction… seemed strange…. Turns out their brother, Tommy had put his name on ALL the slips of paper so everyone would be nice, do some of his chores. Pretty funny.
In later years I’ve also tried to do something nice besides giving up something. I started skipping the first parking space I found and leaving it for someone else. I know its not a lot but some days in the rain and now snow it would be nice to park closer. Whatever you do for Lent this year I hope you know I will be prayerfully including you all in my daily prayers. I just heard about the CRS Rice Bowl project and I hope you will join me in participating in your homes. J. Geeting
Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days
This hymn for Lent was written by English vicar's daughter and hymn-writer Claudia Frances Hernaman (1838-1898). It was first published in 1873 in "The Child's Book of Praise; A Manual of Devotion in Simple Verse."

Lord! Who throughout these forty days,
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins,
And close by Thee to stay.

As Thou with Satan didst contend,
And didst the victory win,
Oh, give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

As Thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy Passion-tide,
Yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesu! with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life
Of suffering overpast,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!
The 3 Pillars of Lent
Bring Lent to Life at Home
Strengthen our domestic church and stay connected with our sisters and brothers around the world through traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving with your family at home. Use these resources throughout the 40-day journey and learn how you can help those most in need. Be sure to share your Lenten journey with us on your social media channels by using #CRSRiceBowl.

What is CRS Rice Bowl?

CRS Rice Bowl is the Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Through CRS Rice Bowl, faith communities in dioceses throughout the United States put their faith into action through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Lenten alms donated through CRS Rice Bowl support the work of CRS in more than 100 different countries each year. Twenty-five percent of donations to CRS Rice Bowl stay in the local diocese, supporting hunger and poverty alleviation efforts. Since its inception in 1975, CRS Rice Bowl has raised nearly $300 million.
What is a CRS Rice Bowl?
CRS Rice Bowl is a staple on the table of Catholic families across the country during Lent. This simple cardboard box is a tool for collecting Lenten alms—and comes with a Lenten calendar that guides families through the 40 days of Lent with activities, reflections and stories.
Stories of Hope
CRS Rice Bowl shares stories of hope from CRS’ work around the world. These stories are examples of the communities where your Lenten alms are changing lives. Stories are accompanied by a simple, meatless recipe that you and your family are encouraged to prepare on Fridays during Lent.