Ash Wednesday

As you may recall, throughout Lent during 2006 I posted daily morning prayers and readings, I am going to continue with this as I believe it was of benefit to many others as well as me (or so you said, and I believe you!).

I’m hoping to add devotional posts to the mix too this time that will help to make the blog a vessel that fascilitates contemplation of faith, more than my utilising the blog as a personal diary recording all my crises….though they may of course intersperse the more ‘faith’ based post’s anyway 😉

Those new to the blog since last Easter may not be aware of the 40-Link Lenten post I wrote last year so you might want to check that out as though some links may possibly now have been retired, there will be many others still in use…some of which are a tremendous aid to prayer and contemplation.

I dragged myself out this evening and I’ve just got home from a Shrove Tuesday UCM annual meal with dignatories, the Bishop, priests and almost 200 ladies who are members of the union of catholic mother’s. It was a most enjoyable time and a great evening of rich food and good company. The pleasure before the pain eh?

Traditionally of course, as lent begins many Christians ‘give up’ something as a means of sacrifice, of penance and of uniting with Christ in suffering, in some small way.

This year I’m giving up ‘giving up’. Last year coffee went out of the window and never came back in again. As a former coffee lover, I can honestly say I now never miss it. Instead of ‘removing’ anything (though I might as a secondary penance if I feel it will not cause me to sin more by idolising that which I feel I can not have – me and my old eating diorder y’see), this year I’ve decided to make an extra concerted effort to walk more closely with the Lord throughout Lent 2007. I hope you’ll join me from timt to time in reading the daily prayers I’ll be posting on the blogI know I’ll enjoy your company along the way.

This afternoon as my children ate pancakes (yummy shop bought ones -delicious andno mess- why didn’t I buy these before!) my son and daughter were discussing the little sacrifices they would make this Lent…Wonderboy thought that he could probably give up being mean to his sister if she was nicer and easier to get along with, but then decided that he would give up homework of the academic kind….to which I replied, ‘I don’t think so!’.

So he eventually decided to add something in too, to add in being helpful around the house, which for him would definately be a sacrifice, believe me! Primadonna is going to give up eating junk food between meals. Yes, well, we could all do with a bit of that sacrifice in this house.

Lastly, there’s just two things left to say….Ash Wednesday is not a day of holy obligation in England and Wales….see below for info of holy days and other feasts during 2007 in England and Wales. It is however, a day of abstinence and fasting. So no meat and no snacking between meals. It’s my understanding that there should be 3 meals maximum, 1 of which should be the main meal which should be meat free and also two other meals which when put together as a whole do not constitute the amount contained in the larger meal. What it basically comes down to then is this, 1 main meal and 2 smaller meals should be consumed during Ash Wednesday and none of them are to contain meat.

I’m rather frustrated that my current course of antibiotics and steroids require me to eat something before/after I have taken the tablets and there are 9 of them to take each day, but I didn’t plan it this way, honest! I know that my requirement to take the medication means that I am exempt form the ‘fast’ , but I shall try to ensure that I stick to it as much as possible and make a good judgement as to what is a necessary amount to eat each time.

Here’s just a couple of organisations you might want to consider donating the savings you make from your fasting, to:

Global Fast 2007

and

Cafod

You might also want to take part in Cafods Virtual Vigil, find out more here

and lastly….as Lent approaches, I wish to ask of you dear readers, forgiveness for the times during this past year when I have offended, upset or hurt you…for any ways in which I have caused you to harbour ill feeling, anger, upset against me due to my insensitivity, ignorance, lack of friendship andor stewardship of this blog. If I have failed you in any way, then I sincerely ask your forgiveness.

God forgives, so I forgive. Forgive me a sinner.

Blessed Ash Wednesday to all.

Holy Day’s and Fast Days in England & Wales during Lent & Easter

Lent
Wednesday 21 February Ash Wednesday
Sunday 25 February 1st Sunday of Lent
Monday 19 March St Joseph
Monday 26 March The Annunciation of the Lord

Easter
Sunday 8 April Easter Sunday
Monday 23 April St George
Sunday 20 May Ascension
Sunday 27 May Pentecost

Ash Wednesday – Morning Prayer

O God, come to my aid.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

Psalm 50 (51)

God, have mercy on me
Take pity on me, Lord, in your mercy; in your abundance of mercy wipe out my guilt.
Wash me ever more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know how guilty I am: my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone have I sinned, and I have done evil in your sight.
Know this, so that you may give just sentence and an unbiased judgement.
See, I was conceived in guilt, in sin my mother conceived me;
but you love truth in the heart, and deep within me you have shown me your wisdom.
You will sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be made clean; you will wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
You will make me hear the sound of joy and gladness; the bones you have crushed will rejoice.
Turn your face away from my sins and wipe out all my transgressions;
create a pure heart in me, God, put a steadfast spirit into me.
Do not send me away from your presence, or withdraw your holy spirit from me;
give me again the joy of your salvation, and be ready to strengthen me with your spirit.
I will teach the unjust your ways, and the impious will return to you.
Free me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, God my saviour, and my voice will glory in your justice.
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will proclaim your praise;
for you do not delight in sacrifices: if I offered you a burnt offering, it would not please you.
The true sacrifice is a broken spirit: a contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not refuse.
Be pleased, Lord, to look kindly on Sion, so that the walls of Jerusalem can be rebuilt,
Then indeed you will accept the proper sacrifices, gifts and burnt offerings; then indeed will bullocks be laid upon your altar.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

Canticle Jeremiah 14

Lamentation of the people in the time of famine and war

Let my eyes shed tears, night and day, let them never cease,
for the daughter of my people is afflicted with a great affliction,
with the worst of all wounds.

If I go out into the fields – behold, those slain by the sword;
if I go into the city – behold, those wasted by famine.
Prophet and priest go through the land, they know nothing.

Surely you have not rejected Judah, thrust him from you?
Surely Sion has not become hateful to your heart?

Why have you struck us down beyond all hope of healing?
We have looked for peace, but no good came;
we have looked for the time of healing, but trouble came instead.

We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the evil done by our fathers:
we acknowledge that we have sinned.
Do not make us a reproach, for your name’s sake,
and do not make us a disgrace before the throne of your glory.
Remember the covenant you made with us: do not bring it to an end.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

Psalm 99 (100)

Enter the Temple with joy

Rejoice in the Lord, all the earth. Exult in his presence and serve him with joy.

Know that the Lord is God. He made us and we are his – his people, the sheep of his flock.
Cry out his praises as you enter his gates, fill his courtyards with songs. Proclaim him and bless his name;for the Lord is our delight. His mercy lasts for ever, his faithfulness through all the ages.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

It is you that the Lord our God has chosen to be his very own people out of all the peoples on the earth. It was for love of you and to keep the oath he swore to your fathers that the Lord brought you out with his mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know then that the Lord your God is God indeed, the faithful God who is true to his covenant and his graciousness for a thousand generations towards those who love him and keep his commandments.

Canticle Benedictus
The Messiah and his forerunner

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to his people and brought about their redemption.

He has raised up the sign of salvation in the house of his servant David,
as he promised through the mouth of the holy ones, his prophets through the ages:
to rescue us from our enemies and all who hate us, to take pity on our fathers,
to remember his holy covenant and the oath he swore to Abraham our father,
that he would give himself to us, that we could serve him without fear – freed from the hands of our enemies –in uprightness and holiness before him, for all of our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High: for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his path,to let his people know their salvation, so that their sins may be forgiven. Through the bottomless mercy of our God, one born on high will visit us
to give light to those who walk in darkness, who live in the shadow of death;
to lead our feet in the path of peace.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

Let us give thanks to God the Father for his gift of the season of Lent, which starts today. We pray that during this holy time he may fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit and thus purify them and make them steadfast in love:
– Lord, give us your Holy Spirit.
May we be fed and satisfied
by every word that comes from your mouth.
Although we long to perform grand and magnificent acts of love,
may we still take all the tiny opportunities for love that each day brings.
Give us the gift of abstaining from excess,
so that we can give more to our poorer brethren.
May we carry your Son’s death around in our bodies:
for through his body you have given us life.

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those that trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Lord, we begin our service in Christ’s army with this holy fast.
We shall be fighting spiritual evils,
so we must arm ourselves with bodily discipline.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
Amen.

May the Lord bless us and keep us from all harm; and may he lead us to eternal life.
Amen

*************************
The Holy Fathers Message for Lent 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37). This is the biblical theme that this year guides our Lenten reflection. Lent is a favourable time to learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to Him who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of His life (cf. Jn 19:25). With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God. In the Encyclical Deus caritas est, I dwelt upon this theme of love, highlighting its two fundamental forms: agape and eros.

God’s love: agape and eros

The term agape, which appears many times in the New Testament, indicates the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other. The word eros, on the other hand, denotes the love of one who desires to possess what he or she lacks and yearns for union with the beloved. The love with which God surrounds us is undoubtedly agape. Indeed, can man give to God some good that He does not already possess? All that the human creature is and has is divine gift. It is the creature then, who is in need of God in everything. But God’s love is also eros. In the Old Testament, the Creator of the universe manifests toward the people whom He has chosen as His own a predilection that transcends every human motivation. The prophet Hosea expresses this divine passion with daring images such as the love of a man for an adulterous woman (cf. 3:1-3). For his part, Ezekiel, speaking of God’s relationship with the people of Israel, is not afraid to use strong and passionate language (cf. 16:1-22). These biblical texts indicate that eros is part of God’s very heart: the Almighty awaits the “yes” of His creatures as a young bridegroom that of his bride. Unfortunately, from its very origins, mankind, seduced by the lies of the Evil One, rejected God’s love in the illusion of a self-sufficiency that is impossible (cf. Gn 3:1-7). Turning in on himself, Adam withdrew from that source of life who is God Himself, and became the first of “those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Heb 2:15). God, however, did not give up. On the contrary, man’s “no” was the decisive impulse that moved Him to manifest His love in all of its redeeming strength.

The Cross reveals the fullness of God’s love

It is in the mystery of the Cross that the overwhelming power of the heavenly Father’s mercy is revealed in all of its fullness. In order to win back the love of His creature, He accepted to pay a very high price: the blood of His only begotten Son. Death, which for the first Adam was an extreme sign of loneliness and powerlessness, was thus transformed in the supreme act of love and freedom of the new Adam. One could very well assert, therefore, together with Saint Maximus the Confessor, that Christ “died, if one could say so, divinely, because He died freely” (Ambigua, 91, 1956). On the Cross, God’s eros for us is made manifest. Eros is indeed – as Pseudo-Dionysius expresses it – that force “that does not allow the lover to remain in himself but moves him to become one with the beloved” (De divinis nominibus, IV, 13: PG 3, 712). Is there more “mad eros” (N. Cabasilas, Vita in Cristo, 648) than that which led the Son of God to make Himself one with us even to the point of suffering as His own the consequences of our offences?

“Him whom they have pierced”

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God’s love, a love in which eros and agape, far from being opposed, enlighten each other. On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us. The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as “Lord and God” when he put his hand into the wound of His side. Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God’s eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape. In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the heaviest of burdens. Jesus said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love.

Blood and water

They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.” Let us look with trust at the pierced side of Jesus from which flow “blood and water” (Jn 19:34)! The Fathers of the Church considered these elements as symbols of the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Through the water of Baptism, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, we are given access to the intimacy of Trinitarian love. In the Lenten journey, memorial of our Baptism, we are exhorted to come out of ourselves in order to open ourselves, in trustful abandonment, to the merciful embrace of the Father (cf. Saint John Chrysostom, Catecheses, 3,14ff). Blood, symbol of the love of the Good Shepherd, flows into us especially in the Eucharistic mystery: “The Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation … we enter into the very dynamic of His self-giving” (Encyclical Deus caritas est, 13). Let us live Lent then, as a “Eucharistic” time in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed. Contemplating “Him whom they have pierced” moves us in this way to open our hearts to others, recognizing the wounds inflicted upon the dignity of the human person; it moves us, in particular, to fight every form of contempt for life and human exploitation and to alleviate the tragedies of loneliness and abandonment of so many people. May Lent be for every Christian a renewed experience of God’s love given to us in Christ, a love that each day we, in turn, must “regive” to our neighbour, especially to the one who suffers most and is in need. Only in this way will we be able to participate fully in the joy of Easter. May Mary, Mother of Beautiful Love, guide us in this Lenten journey, a journey of authentic conversion to the love of Christ. I wish you, dear brothers and sisters, a fruitful Lenten journey, imparting with affection to all of you, a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 21 November 2006.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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5 Responses to Ash Wednesday

  1. onionboy says:

    Coffee is gone from my life as well. Tea all the way now. Must be my latent UK {Welsh} roots showing through.

    I’ll be watching your daily Lenten posts with interest again this year and, I’ll be making some of my own. At least, that’s the plan as of now.

  2. Suzanne says:

    May we all grow and learn with our families the things that will help us to be better givers than receivers and I pray for your recovery still. God bless you, Deb.

  3. Alexa says:

    Been keeping your breathing in my prayers, Deb.

    Boy, I bet your fingers are tired after typing all of that!? Or do you copy and paste or what?

    Dang.

    I’m putting up some thoughts now and then at my place during Lent.

    God bless you through this Holy Season.

  4. Mimi says:

    My best wishes for a wonderful and fruitful Lent, my friend. And, for quick healing.

  5. ukok says:

    Owen,

    Oooh duckey, I couldn’t do without my nice cuppa tea, oh no mister!

    What on earth do you drink all day?

    I look forward to reading your post’s about your Lenten journey too, my friend.

    Suzanne,

    Amen, Amen, may our families stirve to be a better likeness of the holy family with each passing day. Amen and many thanks for your prayers.

    Alexa,

    cut and paste my darling, cut and paste 😉

    Thanks for your prayers dear friend.

    Mimi,

    Blessed Lent to you my dear, I look forward to readsing about your Lenten journey, too, I believe that your Great Lent begins on Sunday, does it not?

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