Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent are often days of habit. We are more likely to attend Mass today than we are on actual Holy Days of Obligation. We will abstain from meat because Fridays during Lent are for fish fries with our church community. We drop our pocket change into Rice Bowls because it is how we have given alms since we were children.
But not this year. This year, we are going to embark on a Lenten journey filled with mindfulness. We are going to intentionally participate in prayer, fasting, and alms-giving because we want to draw to closer to our Heavenly Father. We will receive our ashes today and truly reflect on what we have been told, we will remember that we are dust and from dust, we will rise to a new, spiritual life with God in Heaven.
As we fast today, we should take note of when we feel uncomfortable. What do we think as we experience this? The Gospel today tells that when we fast, we are not to let those around us know. Don't complain about your stomach growling or whine about how much you miss your midday snack. Instead, each time you feel that twinge, use it as a reminder to pray this simple prayer:
"Jesus, I love you. Save a soul."
We are reminded today what it means to pray. It is a secret moment between you and God. No one else needs to know. Finally, we are asked today and throughout this season to give alms. When we give, we are not to trumpet it nor are we to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. But alms are more than our finances; good stewardship requires us to give of our very selves. Please, give as you financially see fit this season, but today and this week, let us seek opportunities to share our time with our family. Put down our electronics and intentionally give our time with our spouse, partner, children, or whomever we share our home with.
Today's Gospel, from Matthew, describes how we should not pray, fast, or give. It reminds us that God calls us to do things with notice or celebration by others. We are invited to do things mindfully, out of love for our God and fellows. Let us try and keep our Lenten journey close to hearts this year.
Remember that we are called to be prophets and priests and to share the good news, so please invite your friends and family to join us as we start on our Lenten journey together.
If you haven't attended Mass yet today or will be unable to make it, simply click on Matthew's Gospel. It is linked to today's readings as provided by the USCCB.