Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday: the Journey to Easter Renewal

This Lent we are again invited to join in renewing our journey as Catholic Christians on the path to holiness.

Holiness means being like God the Father, who is merciful (Luke 6:36).

Holiness means being lovingly obedient like Jesus. Holiness means to live as one guided by the Holy Spirit.

St. Francis de Sales teaches that the path to holiness will be different according to one’s state in life. It will be exercised today in different ways by the investment broker, the scientist, the minimum wage worker; by the politician and the teacher; by those widowed, young people, parents of young children and the clergy.

So, the quest for holiness needs to be adapted to the strength, activities, and duties of each particular person.

With this in mind, we find Lent offers us three traditional means to draw near to God: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The prayer above all others is the Eucharist. All should strive to renew their commitment to Sunday Mass as the centre of their life of faith. Daily Mass or meditation on the daily Scripture readings (through Lectio divina) can extend the Lord’s Day throughout the week.

Morning and evening prayer, grace before meals and other devotions such as the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Stations of the Cross are also expressions of a faith that is alive and grateful to God for blessings received.

Finally, Eucharistic adoration where available allows for the deepening of our love for the Eucharistic Lord Jesus and a coming to appreciate his will for our lives.

Fast and abstinence still comprise an important aspect of a Catholic’s devotional life.

Catholics are called to abstain from meat today (Ash Wednesday) and on the Fridays of Lent and to fast (eat only one full meal--two other snacks not equalling a full meal are permitted) today and on Good Friday.

These are expressions of a desire to enter into the Lenten renewal at the start of Lent (Ash Wednesday) and gratitude for the Lord Jesus’ gift of his life for us (Fridays, especially Good Friday).

Other traditional acts of “giving up” sweets, alcohol, tobacco or other pleasures during Lent help individuals personalize their spirit of Lenten sacrifice—a desire to “turn from sin and believe the Good News”.

Almsgiving flows naturally from the saving of money by these sacrifices. We should be particularly caring for the needy near and far, participating in our parish’s social outreach and in the Lenten campaign for the poor of the world conducted by Development and Peace, the social justice program promoted by the Bishops of Canada (Share Lent).

Finally, the Sacrament of Reconciliation plays a key role in our quest for holiness.

The Church mandates that Catholics conscious of serious sin make an annual confession during the Easter Season (Ash Wednesday to Divine Mercy Sunday).

Wise interpreters of the spiritual life know that this practice of confession is a help to all who wish to grow spiritually on the path to holiness.

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Bal de neige/Winterlude shots

Sliding down one of the hills at Parc Jacques-Cartier


  1. Thank you, Your Grace! I needed to read these words today!


  2. Dear Archbishop Terry,
    Can you please help clarify something; Has the CCCB asked that Catholics abstain from meat during Lent on Fridays?Is there anything official said about it? Each Conference is slightly different and we are trying to get to the bottom of it.
    A Curious Canadian Catholic!

  3. The official position is that abstinence on Fridays is the norm for all Catholics between the ages of 15 and 59 inclusive, but the Bishops Conference here has determined that Catholics in Canada may substitute some other pious exercise or act of charity on all Fridays of the year, with the exception of Good Friday.