Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Mass schedule today at St Andrew's: 6:30, 8:30, 10, 7:30 pm

"Return to me with your whole heart" (Joel 2:12).

This is from today's first reading. It is our mantra as we begin the season of Lent. Hopefully, we have given our hearts to Christ in general. But, let us do it in specific ways. There is at least one specific thing in which each of us needs to give our hearts to Christ (e.g., patience, chastity). Whatever fasting or works of penance we do is mainly to help us give our hearts to Christ in the specific thing. If we fast from chocolate, for example, but don't give our heart to Christ with our one thing this Lent, then the fast was pointless.

As Jesus indicates in today's Gospel, our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving is between us and God. This Lent, it's between you and God. Give Him your whole heart!


At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I receive a daily "Word of the Day" email from

Today's choice made me think of Fr G's homilies:



1. Moving or traveling from place to place.
2. Of or related to walking, moving, or traveling.
3. Of or related to Aristotle: his teaching method of conducting discussions while walking about.

From Latin peripateticus, from Greek peripatetikos, from peripatein (to walk about, to discourse while pacing as did Aristotle), from peri- (around) + patein (to walk). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pent- (to tread) that also gave us words such as English find, Dutch pad (path), Hindi path (path), French pont (bridge), and Russian sputnik (traveling companion).

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why isn't the Creed said at Ash Wednesday Mass? And- why isn't belief about teh Eucharist in the Creed?

At 5:15 PM, Blogger fran said...


Belief about the Eucharist is in the Creed. For a nearly line-by-line explanation/interpretation, go to:

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the Creed-
I read the link posted, but I'm not sure I understand how it that line in the Creed expands to all that was stated in explanation. I wondered if maybe the Eucharist wasn't always a primary focus in the Catholic faith. I thought perhaps the importance of the Eucharist was something that developed later. I was just curious.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger fran said...

For anon 11:17 -

There can be no Catholic faith without the Eucharist.

Catechism of Catholic Church

1323 "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross ( He suffered, under Pontius Pilate, was crucifed, died and buried ) throughtout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future golory is given to us.'"

1324 The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christain life" The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."

1327 In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist,and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking."

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

The Creed isn't said at Ash Wednesday Mass because Ash Wednesday isn't a solemnity or a Sunday.

The importance of the Eucharist predates the Last Supper (see John 6, the Bread of Life discourse, when Jesus saying "My flesh is real food" led to many people abandoning Him).

But the creeds weren't composed to list everything important to the Church. The Apostles' Creed doesn't explicitly mention baptism, for example, even though it was used during the Rite of Baptism. And early Christians generally didn't talk openly about the Eucharist, since suspicious pagans tended to misunderstand it as literally cannibalism.

The Nicene Creed, which we usually profess at Sunday Mass, derives from the First Council of Nicea, whose chief focus was the doctrine that Jesus is God, eternally begotten but uncreated. Since the nature of the Eucharist was not a topic of dispute at that council, its absence from the Creed isn't a sign of its insignificance to early Christians.

In fact, if you read the canons promulgated by the Council of Nicea, you'll see how important the Church regarded the Eucharist: On the one hand, those who abandoned the Faith but are truly repentant are to be progressively reintegrated into the Church, but can't receive the Eucharist for twelve years; on the other hand, no one at the point of death is to be deprived of a final Eucharist, even if they are not otherwise allowed to receive.

At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At Ash Wednesday Mass, when the Gospel talks about praying in secret, it seems at odds that we would do something as public as a display of ashes. We literally wear our faith on our foreheads.

There was a piece written in the “On Faith” section of the post that asked the question, “Do personal religious symbols like ashes, crosses, Stars of David and nun's habits primarily serve as a reminder of private religious belief or are they public statements?”

My mom’s friend is a secretary at a parish and said that the most inquiries about Mass come, not about Christmas or Easter, but Ash Wednesday- people want to receive their ashes. Ashes are meant to be an outward sign of our sin, but I wonder, when I see so many I don’t see any other time of the year, if it isn’t also an act of pride.

Question- are the leftover ashes buried?

At 10:25 AM, Blogger fran said...

"We literally wear our faith on our foreheads."
"...if it isn't also an act of pride."

A couple of years ago, after having had received ashes, I did some shopping. Along with the "you have something on your forehead" comment that was received from a fellow shopper, I also heard this from another:

"Oh! You reminded me, today is Ash Wednesday. I have to remember to get my ashes."

Perhaps displaying ashes is an act of evangelization.

At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps displaying ashes is an act of evangelization."

Maybe so, probably so. I went thru the Mc D.'s drive thru to receive a "God bless you," upon seeing my ashes. It made me feel good. I focused more on that than why I was wearing them to begin with.

Is that the point of Ash Weds- to acknowledge one another? Do others see a commitment to faith and my desire to mourn and repent? I don't think so. I don't really understand.

I've often thought about the way things that happen during Lent. Last year someone who was chosen as one of the people in our congregation to participate in the washing of feet told me that she was proud that she had done enough to be ackowledged and honored in this way.

There are alot of things during Lent that seem to be at odds with what we say we should do. It can be a confusing time of year. I just want to be free of the confusion.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger fran said...

Perception is a funny thing, isn't it?

Is the glass half-full, or is it half-empty? Is the sky partly sunny, or is it partly cloudy? Is wearing one's ashes an act of pride or an act of humility? I suppose the answer lies in the eyes of the beholder, the meteorologist or the faithful.

Receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday is a sign of faith, an acknowledgement of one's sin(s) combined with the desire to turn away from sin, repent and deepen one's relationship with God, and a reminder of our own mortality.

While some might be pleased to display them as a sign of one's faith, it should probably not be seen as an act of pride in and of itself. Afterall, acknowledging one's sins and knowing that we always stand in need of forgiveness is always a humbling experience.

I think it is important to remember that Jesus called many to follow Him. Not all of those called responded in the same way. Those who answered the call chose Him, not the other way around. Should we feel a sense of pride when called to do something in our parish community? Should we look at it as acknowledgement and honor?

"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:11

At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year my employer offered ashes. When I went, I was asked whether I were Protestant or Catholic.

??? I didn't know there was a difference in terms of ashes.

At 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I can understand how every tenet of faith could not be expressed in the Creed, belief in the Real Presence is of great and unique importance to the Catholic faith. Given the number of times the Creed changed before it became the version we recite, I just wondered why it was never included. Based on what different Christian faiths believe regarding the Eucharist, at some point it did became a point of dispute- right?

Another question regarding the Creed- I’ve seen the Creed written with the words “Catholic” and “catholic.” Which is correct?

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

At the time the Nicene Creed was composed, people didn't really think of the Body and Blood of Christ under the signs of bread and wine apart from the context of the Eucharistic celebration. I don't think it would have made sense to them to write an article of a creed on the Real Presence except as part of a larger section on the Holy Sacrifice in which Christ becomes really present.

Worshipping Jesus present in the Eucharist outside the Liturgy dates to the twelfth century, and is still not really done (I've been told) in the Eastern Churches.

To express the Real Presence as a singular dogma isolated from the context of the Holy Mass -- which is to say, from the context of Christ's death on the Cross -- is risky, as is emphasizing any dogma without regard for its context in the full Catholic faith.


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