Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Saint February 11 : Our Lady of Lourdes - #Lourdes

Feast Day:February 11
The pilgrimage of Lourdes is founded on the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux. The first apparition occurred 11 February, 1858. There were eighteen in all; the last took place 16 July, of the same year. Bernadette often fell into an ecstasy. The mysterious vision she saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle was that of a young and beautiful lady. "Lovelier than I have ever seen" said the child. But the girl was the only one who saw the vision, although sometimes many stood there with her. Now and then the apparition spoke to the seer who also was the only one who heard the voice. Thus, she one day told her to drink of a mysterious fountain, in the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and of which there was no sign, but which immediately gushed forth. On another occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. It was only four years later, in 1862, that the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful "justified in believing the reality of the apparition". A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest. In 1873 the great "national" French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church; it is now observed on 11 February.
Never has a sanctuary attracted such throngs. At the end of the year 1908, when the fiftieth anniversary of the apparition was celebrated, although the record really only began from 1867, 5297 pilgrimages had been registered and these had brought 4,919,000 pilgrims. Individual pilgrims are more numerous by far than those who come in groups. To their number must be added the visitors who do not come as pilgrims, but who are attracted by a religious feeling or sometimes merely by the desire to see this far-famed spot. The Company of the Chemins de Fer du Midi estimates that the Lourdes station receives over one million travellers per annum. Every nation in the world furnishes its contingent. Out of the total of pilgrimages given above, four hundred and sixty-four came from countries other than France. They are sent by the United States, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy, England, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, etc. The bishops lead the way. At the end of the year of the fiftieth anniversary, 2013 prelates, including 546 archbishops, 10 primates, 19 patriarchs, 69 cardinals, had made the pilgrimage to Lourdes. But more remarkable still than the crowd of pilgrims is the series of wonderful occurrences which take place under the protection of the celebrated sanctuary. Passing over spiritual cures, which more often than not escape human observance, we shall confine ourselves to bodily diseases. The writer of this article has recorded every recovery, whether partial or complete, and in the first half-century of the shrine's existence he has counted 3962. Notwithstanding very careful statistics which give the names and surnames of the patients who have recovered, the date of the cure, the name of the disease, and generally that of the physician who had charge of the case, there are inevitably doubtful or mistaken cases, attributable, as a rule, to the excited fancy of the afflicted one and which time soon dispels. But it is only right to note: first, that these unavoidable errors regard only secondary cases which have not like the others been the object of special study; it must also be noted that the number of cases is equalled and exceeded by actual cures which are not put on record. The afflicted who have recovered are not obliged to present themselves and half of them do not present themselves, at the Bureau des Constatations M├ędicales at Lourdes, and it is from this bureau's official reports that the list of cures is drawn up.
The estimate that about 4000 cures have been obtained at Lourdes within the first fifty years of the pilgrimage is undoubtedly considerably less than the actual number. The Bureau des Constatations stands near the shrine, and there are recorded and checked the certificates of maladies and also the certificates of cure; it is free to all physicians, whatever their nationality or religious belief. Consequently, on an average, from two to three hundred physicians annual visit this marvellous clinic. As to the nature of the diseases which are cured, nervous disorders so frequently mentioned, do not furnish even the fourteenth part of the whole; 278 have been counted, out of a total of 3962. The present writer has published the number of cases of each disease or infirmity, among them tuberculosis, tumours, sores, cancers, deafness, blindness, etc. The "Annales des Sciences Physiques", a sceptical review whose chief editor is Doctor Ch. Richet, Professor at the Medical Faculty of Paris, said in the course of a long article, apropos of this faithful study: "On reading it, unprejudiced minds cannot but be convinced that the facts stated are authentic."

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

#PopeFrancis "Jesus calls us to live out prayer, charity, and penance.." #AshWednesday Mass Video - FULL TEXT Homily

Pope Francis crosses himself as he leads the Ash Wednesday mass, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 - AP
Pope Francis crosses himself as he leads the Ash Wednesday mass, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 - AP
10/02/2016 17:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis commissioned hundreds of “Missionaries of Mercy” during Mass on Ash Wednesday at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
In his Bull announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Father said the Missionaries of Mercy “would be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith.” Priests chosen to be Missionaries of Mercy have also been given the authority to pardon “even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” Above all, the Pope said, they will be “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon.”
During Ash Wednesday Mass, the Pope focused on the theme of mercy as we begin the season of Lent.
In his homily during the Mass, Pope Francis said the day’s readings present two invitations: First, to be reconciled to God. In order to do so, he said, we must first recognize that we are in need of mercy: “This is the first step in the Christian journey; it comes in through the open door that is Christ, where He Himself awaits us, the Saviour, and He offers us a new and joyful life.”
The Pope noted a number of obstacles that “close the doors of our hearts” and make reconciliation with God difficult. The Missionaries of Mercy, he said, have a mandate “to be signs and instruments of the forgiveness of God,” called to help their brothers and sisters to “open the doors of their heart, overcome shame, and not flee from the light.”
The second invitation, the Pope said, is heard in the reading from the prophet Joel. God says to His people, “Return to me with your whole heart.” Sin keeps us far from God, but Jesus has offered a “story of salvation” that enables us return to Him. The Gospel for the beginning of Lent, he says, offers us three remedies for sin: prayer, charity, and fasting.
But these three remedies are not merely external acts, the Pope said. Rather, they must come “from the depths of our very being.” During Lent, Christ calls us to live out our acts of prayer, charity, and penance “with coherence and authenticity, overcoming hypocrisy.”
Pope Francis concluded, “Let us set out on this journey together, as a Church, receiving the ashes and keeping our gaze fixed on the Crucified One. Loving us, He invites us to be reconciled with God, and to return to Him, in order to rediscover ourselves.”
Below, please find Vatican Radio’s unofficial translation of Pope Francis’ prepared homily for Mass for Ash Wednesday 2016:
The Word of God, at the beginning of our Lenten journey, offers two invitations to the Church and to each one of us.
The first is that of Saint Paul: “Be reconciled to God.” It is not simply good paternal advice, much less merely a suggestion; it is a true and proper plea in the name of Christ: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Why so solemn and heartfelt an appeal? Because Christ know how fragile we are, that we are sinners, He knows the weakness of our heart; He sees the wounds of the wrongs we have committed and suffered; He knows how much we need forgiveness; He knows how much we need to feel loved in order to do good. By ourselves we are not up to it: that’s why the Apostle doesn’t tell us, “do something,” but rather, “to be reconciled to God,” to allow Him to forgive us, with confidence, because “God is greater than our hearts.” He overcomes sin and lifts us from our misery, if we trust in Him. It is for us to recognize that we are in need of mercy: It is the first step of the Christian journey; it comes in through the open door that is Christ, where He Himself awaits us, the Saviour, and He offers us a new and joyful life.
There can be some obstacles that close the doors of the heart. There is the temptation to bolt the doors, that is, to live with our own proper sins, minimizing them, always justifying ourselves, thinking we are no worse than others; so, then, the looks of the soul are closed, and we remain closed within, prisoners of evil. Another obstacle is the shame in opening the secret door of the heart. Shame, in reality, is a good symptom, because it indicates we want to break away from evil; above all we must never transform it into fear or dread. And there is a third trap, that of moving away from the door: this happens when we dwell on our miseries, when we brood over them continually, to the point where we plunge ourselves into the darkest cellars of the soul. Then we become even more familiar with the sadness we don’t want, we grow discouraged, and are weaker in the face of temptations. This happens because we remain alone with ourselves, closing in on ourselves and fleeing from the light; while it is only the grace of the Lord that frees us. Let us allow ourselves, then, to “be reconciled,” let us listen to Jesus who says to the tired and oppressed “Come to me!” (Mt 11:28). Do not remain in ourselves, but go to Him! There we will find refreshment and peace.
At this celebration the Missionaries of Mercy are present, to receive the mandate to be signs and instruments of the forgiveness of God. Dear brothers, you will be able to help open the doors of the heart, to overcome shame, to not flee from the light. May your hands bless and lift up your brothers and sisters with paternity; that through you the gaze and the hands of the Father might rest on His sons and cure their wounds!
There is a second invitation from God, who says, by way of the prophet Joel, “Return to me with your whole heart” (2:12). If we need to return it is because we are far away. It is the mystery of sin: we are far from God, from others, even from ourselves. It is not difficult to understand: we all see how we struggle to truly have confidence in God, to trust in Him as a Father, without fear; how difficult it is to love others, instead of thinking ill of them; how much it costs us to work for our own true good, while we are attracted to and seduced by so many material realities that fade away, and in the end, leave us impoverished. Beside this story of sin, Christ has inaugurated a story of salvation. The Gospel that opens Lent invites us to be the protagonists of this story, embracing three remedies, three medicines that heal us from sin (cf. Mt 6:1-6; 16-18).
In the first place is prayer, an expression of openness to and confidence in the Lord: it is the personal encounter with Him, which shortens the distance created by sin. To pray is to say “I am not self-sufficient, I need you, You are my life and my salvation.” In the second place is charity, to overcome estrangement in our relations with others. True love, in fact, is not an exterior act, it is not giving something in a paternalistic way to quiet our conscience, but accepting the one who needs our time, our friendship, our help. It is living out an attitude of service, overcoming the temptation to satisfy ourselves. In the third place is fasting, penance, to free ourselves from dependence in our relationship to what is passing, and to train ourselves to be more sensitive and merciful. It is an invitation to simplicity and to sharing: taking something away from our table and from our goods, to rediscover the true good of freedom.
“Return to me,” the Lord says, “with your whole heart”: not only with some external act, but from the depths of your very being. In fact, Jesus calls us to live out prayer, charity, and penance with coherence and authenticity, conquering hypocrisy. Lent should be a time of beneficial “pruning away” of falsehood, worldliness, indifference: in order not to think that everything is ok as long as I’m ok; to understand that what counts is not the approval of others, or search for success or consensus, but cleanness in one’s heart and in one’s life; in order to rediscover the Christian identity – that is, the love that serves, not the selfishness that is served. Let us set out on this journey together, as the Church, receiving the Ashes and keeping our gaze fixed on the Crucified One. Loving us, He invites us to be reconciled with God and to return to Him, in order to rediscover ourselves.

#PopeFrancis "I invite to pray for the sick and to have them feel our love." #Audience - FULL TEXT - Video

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and a good Lenten journey!
It is good and also significant to have this Audience precisely on this Ash Wednesday. We begin our Lenten journey and today we pause on the ancient institution of the “jubilee”; it is an ancient thing, attested in Sacred Scripture. We find it in particular in the Book of Leviticus, which presents it as a culminating moment of the religious and social life of the people of Israel.
Every 50 years, “on the day of expiation” (Leviticus 25:9), when the Lord’s mercy was invoked upon all the people, the sound of the horn proclaimed a great event of liberation. In fact we read in the Book of Leviticus: “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family […] In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property” (25:10.13). According to these dispositions, if some one was constrained to sell his land or his house, during the jubilee he could repossess it; and if some one had contracted debts and, unable to pay them, was constrained to put himself at the service of the creditor, he could return free to his family and regain all his property.
It was a sort of “general amnesty,” which permitted all to return to their original situation, with the cancellation of all debts, the restitution of land, and the possibility to enjoy freedom again as members of the People of God. A “holy” people, where prescriptions such as that of the jubilee served to combat poverty and inequality, guaranteeing a worthy life for all and a fair distribution of the land on which to dwell and from which to draw sustenance. The central idea is that the land belongs originally to God and has been entrusted to men (Cf. Genesis 1:28-29), therefore no one can arrogate to himself its exclusive possession, creating situations of inequality. We can think and rethink of this today; each one should think in his heart if he has too many things. But why not leave them to those who have nothing? Ten per cent, fifty per cent … I say: may the Holy Spirit inspire each one of you.
With the jubilee, whoever had become poor had again what was necessary to live, and whoever had become rich restored to the poor man what he had taken from him. The aim was a society based in equality and solidarity, where liberty, land and money became a good for all and not only for some, as happens now. If I’m not mistaken … more or less, the numbers aren’t certain, but 80% of the riches of humanity are in the hands of less than 20% of the population.  It is a jubilee – and I say this recalling the history of our salvation – to be converted, so that our heart becomes larger, more generous, more a child of God, with more love. I’ll tell you something: if this desire, if the jubilee doesn’t reach pockets, it isn’t a jubilee. Have you understood? And this is in the Bible! This Pope doesn’t invent it: it’s in the Bible. The aim – as I said – was a society based on equality and solidarity, where liberty, land and money were to be a good for all, not for some. In fact, the jubilee had the function of helping the people to live a concrete fraternity, made up of mutual help. We can say that the biblical jubilee was a “jubilee of mercy,” because it was lived in the sincere search for the good of the needy brother.
In the same line, other institutions and other laws also governed the life of the People of God, so that they could experience the Lord’s mercy through that of men. For instance, the biblical law prescribed the giving of the “tithe” which was allocated to the Levites, in charge of worship, who were without land, and to the poor, the orphans, the widows (Cf.Deuteronomy 14:22-29). It provided, namely, that a tenth of what was harvested, or which stemmed from other activities, be given to those who were without protection and in a state of need, thus fostering conditions of relative equality within a people in which all should behave as brothers.
There was also the law concerning the “first fruits.” What is this? The first part of the harvest, the most precious part, was to be shared with the Levites and with strangers (Cf.Deuteronomy 18:4-5; 26:1-11), who didn’t have fields, so that for them also land would be the source of nutrition and life. “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me,” says the Lord (Leviticus 25:234). We are all guests of the Lord, in expectation of our heavenly homeland (Cf. Hebrews 11:13-16; 1Peter 2:11), called to render the world, which receives us, habitable and human. And how many “first fruits” one who is fortunate could give one who is in difficulty! How many first fruits! First fruits not only of fields but of every product of labor, of wages, of savings, of so many things that are possessed and that sometimes are wasted. This also happens today. So many letters arrive at the Apostolic Charities with a bit of money: “This is part of my salary to help others.” And this is beautiful; to help others, welfare institutions, hospitals, rest homes ..; to give also to foreigners, those who are strangers and are passing by. Jesus was passing by in Egypt.
And, in fact, thinking of this, Sacred Scripture exhorts with insistence to respond generously to the request for loans, without mean calculations and without taking impossible interest: “And if your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall maintain him; as a stranger and a sojourner he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or increase” (Leviticus 25:35-37). This teaching is always timely. How many families are on the street, victims of usury! Please, let us pray that during this Jubilee the Lord take from all our hearts the desire to have more — usury. That we return to be generous, great. How many situations of usury we are constrained to see and how much suffering and anguish they bring families! And so often, in despair, how many men end in suicide because they can’t make ends meet and have no hope, they don’t have the extended hand to help them; only the hand that comes to make them pay the interest. Usury is a grave sin; it is a sin that cries out to God. The Lord, instead, has promised His blessing to him who opens his hand to give with largesse (Cf. Deuteronomy 15:10). He will give you twofold, perhaps not in money but in other things, but the Lord will always give you twofold.
Dear brothers and sisters, the biblical message is very clear: to open oneself with courage to sharing, and this is mercy! And if we want mercy from God, we must begin to practice it. It is this: we begin to practice it between fellow citizens, between families, between peoples, between continents. Contribute to bring about a land without poor means to build a society without discriminations, based on solidarity that leads to sharing what one has, in a distribution of resources founded on brotherhood and justice. Thank you.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]
Greeting in Italian
I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking faithful. I greet in particular the Diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works; the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Lipari; the Mani Tese Association and the teachers of religion of the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone. I greet the parish groups and the students of the Arca School of Legnano and Don Luigi Monza of Cislago. I exhort you to revive the faith with the crossing of the Holy Door, to be witnesses of the Lord’s love with concrete works of charity.
The day after tomorrow I will begin my Apostolic Journey to Mexico, but first I will go to Havana to meet my dear brother Kyrill. I entrust to the prayer of all the meeting with Patriarch Kyrill as well as the trip to Mexico.
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today, Ash Wednesday, the Lenten journey begins. Dear young people, I hope you will live this time of grace as a return to the Merciful Father, who awaits all with open arms. Dear sick, I encourage you to offer your sufferings for the conversion of those who live far from God; and I invite you, dear newlyweds, to build your new family on the solid rock of divine love.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]
Tomorrow, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, is the 24th World Day of the Sick, which will have its culminating celebration at Nazareth. In this year’s Message we reflected on the irreplaceable role of Mary at the Wedding of Cana: “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Reflected in Mary’s solicitude is God’s tenderness and the immense goodness of the Merciful Jesus. I invite to pray for the sick and to have them feel our love. May Mary’s tenderness itself be present in the life of so many people who are at the side of the sick, able to perceive their needs, also those that are most imperceptible, because seen with eyes full of love.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT

#PopeFrancis "Jesus asks us to do good for the sake..." #Lent Message - FULL TEXT

Pope Francis puts ashes on a Cardinal's forehead during Ash Wednesday Mass in 2015. - AP
Pope Francis puts ashes on a Cardinal's forehead during Ash Wednesday Mass in 2015. - AP
10/02/2016 07:30

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday morning sent an audio-message to the young people of the Prelature of the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii.
It is the first contribution in the “Keep Lent” initiative of the Shrine’s youth ministry office, which will provide a daily Gospel reading and commentary from leading clergymen and lay catechists through social media throughout the penitential season.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
In his message, Pope Francis reflects on the Gospel reading from the Ash Wednesday Mass, in which Jesus warns against practicing good works so others may see them.
“When we do something good, sometimes we are tempted to seek praise and to be rewarded: that’s human glory,” Pope Francis said. “But it’s a false reward because it makes us focus on what others think of us.”
The Holy Father said Jesus asks us to do good for the sake of good.
“He asks us to feel we are under the watchful gaze of our Heavenly Father at all times and to live in relationship with Him – not in relationship with the opinion of others,” the Pope said.
“Let us do what we can, in prayer, in sacrifice, and in acts of charity, humbly before God. This way we will be worthy of God the Father’s reward,” he concluded.
A Vatican Radio English translation of the full text of Pope Francis’ audio-message is below.
Dear young people,
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be careful not to practice your good works before men to be seen by them”… “When you give to the poor do not sound a trumpet before you”… “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”.
The Word of God gives us the right perspective in which to live Lent well. When we do something good, sometimes we are tempted to seek praise and to be rewarded: that’s human glory. But it’s a false reward because it makes us focus on what others think of us.
Jesus asks us to do good for the sake of good. He asks us to feel we are under the watchful gaze of our Heavenly Father at all times and to live in relationship with Him – not in relationship with the opinion of others.
Living in the presence of the Father gives us a much deeper joy than worldly glory can give us. May our attitude this Lent be one of living in secret where the Father sees us, loves us and waits for us. Naturally, exterior things are important too, but we must always choose to live in the presence of God.
Let us do what we can, in prayer, in sacrifice, and in acts of charity, humbly before God. This way we will be worthy of God the Father’s reward.
I wish you a blessed Lent.
May Our Lady of Pompeii accompany you and, please, pray for me.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : #AshWednesday February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 219

Reading 1JL 2:12-18

Even now, says the LORD,
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.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Responsorial PsalmPS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Reading 22 COR 5:20—6:2

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Verse Before The GospelSEE PS 95:8

If today your hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

Gospel Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

What is Lent and Ash Wednesday - #Lent #Biblical #Roots and #Rules to SHARE

Ash Wednesday a moveable feast that begins the liturgical season of Lent. It does not have a specific date but depends on when Easter is celebrated. On Ash Wednesday Christians begin the period of the fast. Healthy people between the ages of 18 and 59 are required to fast or perform some act of penance. Abstinence from meat is required on Ash Wednesday and Fridays. Fasting requires the consumption of 1 full meal and only 2 smaller meals. Ash Wednesday starts the commemoration of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. Lent is actually 46 days as the Sundays do not count for the fasting period. When people attend Church services on this day they are commonly blessed with ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads. 
Is Ash Wednesday Mass a day of obligation to attend Mass and receive ashes? No, it is not required for the faithful to attend Mass nor receive ashes. It is encouraged and visible sign to pray, do penance, and be humble. 
Where do the ashes come from?
The ashes are usually derived from the burning of the palms used on Palm Sunday. They are to remind people of their sins and call them to repentence. Usually a priest, deacon or lay person marks the person's forehead. The biblical verse is said:
Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.
Genesis 3: 19
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
Mark 1 : 15
This marking is called a sacramental. Churches are decorated with purple during the season of Lent. Statues and crosses are covered with purple cloth. Lent ends with the celebration of Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead.The Church encourages the faithful to go to Confession or Reconciliation on this day. Confession involves the telling of one's sins to a priest who then provides forgiveness according to the commission of Christ.
John 20:21-23:
He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

There are many biblical roots to repentence for sin with ashes, here are a few sources:
Judith 7: 14
But the children of Israel, when they saw the multitude of them, prostrated themselves upon the ground, putting ashes upon their heads, praying with one accord, that the God of Israel would shew his mercy upon his people.
Esther 4:3
And in all provinces, towns, and places, to which the king's cruel edict was come, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, wailing, and weeping, many using sackcloth and ashes for their bed.
Jeremiah 6:26
Gird thee with sackcloth, O daughter of my people, and sprinkle thee with ashes: make thee mourning as for an only son, a bitter lamentation, because the destroyer shall suddenly come upon us.
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