Prepare for a Joyful Lent
What are you willing to do to better yourself as a disciple of God? Today, being Ash Wednesday, do you wear your ashes proudly, yet not out of boasting, but joy? Many people are so afraid of what non- Catholics will think, ashes on your forehead. I know for myself, people think it's dirt, unnecessary, perhaps part of a 'cult', but that's not the case. Why then do we wear them? To symbolize our belief, our hope and joy, and also to show the world that this is the start of Lent, the time meant to be fasting, remembering Christ's coming death and resurrection, and his time of temptation. We too will be tempted, especially if we give up something we love. However, that's not the point of Lent, to give up joy, but to do things to better others by either changing something in yourself, routine, eating habits, or even making a goal to share your talents more with the world. Lent should be a time where you give yourself for the world, and be joyful because of it.
Today's Gospel states:'"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you'(Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18).
In today's Gospel, we hear how when you give alms, you shouldn't seek praise. This is fitting for Ash Wednesday, as we don't wear these ashes to show superiority in belief, but joy for the coming time, helping others recognize God's joy. For myself, I want others to appreciate my gifts, and so plan to put more time into my music over Lent, and less into Netflix and tv. Also, why give up all the delicious foods you love, when you could use this time to fast, to have a healthier diet and feel better yourself, and your mood will improve for those around you. Take some time to pray and ask God to help you make this a Lent of joy.
Today's prayer comes from 'Catholic Online' a prayer for Spiritual Renewal in Lent:
God, heavenly Father, look upon me and hear my prayer during this holy Season of Lent. By the good works You inspire, help me to discipline my body and to be renewed in spirit. Without You I can do nothing. By Your Spirit help me to know what is right and to be eager in doing Your will. Teach me to find new life through penance. Keep me from sin, and help me live by Your commandment of love. God of love, bring me back to You. Send Your Spirit to make me strong in faith and active in good works. May my acts of penance bring me Your forgiveness, open my heart to Your love, and prepare me for the coming feast of the Resurrection of Jesus. Lord, during this Lenten Season, nourish me with Your Word of life and make me one with You in love and prayer. Fill my heart with Your love and keep me faithful to the Gospel of Christ. Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness. Give me new life by Your Sacraments, especially the Mass. Father, our source of life, I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand; let me walk more readily in Your ways. Guide me in Your gentle mercy, for left to myself I cannot do Your Will. Father of love, source of all blessings, help me to pass from my old life of sin to the new life of grace. Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.