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Vol: 45, No.15 ASH WEDNESDAY ( B) February 14 2018  
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For you will that our self-denial should give you thanks, humble our sinful pride, contribute to the feeding of the poor, and so help us imitate you in your kindness.
And so we glorify you with countless Angels, as with one voice of praise we acclaim:
All: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts....
He who ponders the law of the Lord day and night will yield fruit in due season. (Ps 1:2-3)
May the Sacrament we have received sustain us, O Lord, that our Lenten fast may be pleasing to you and be for us a healing remedy. Through Christ our Lord.
At the beginning of the Lenten journey, the Word of God addresses the Church and each one of us with two invitations.
The first is that of Saint Paul: “Be reconciled with God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). It is not simply good paternal advice but a true and proper supplication in the name of Christ: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Why such a solemn and heartbroken appeal? Because Christ knows how fragile and sinful we are, He knows the weakness of our heart; He sees it wounded by the evil we have committed and right away He knows how much we need forgiveness, He knows that we must feel loved in order to do good. Alone we are not capable: therefore, the Apostle does not tell us to do something, but to allow ourselves to be reconciled by God, to permit Him to forgive us, because “God is greater than our hearts (1  John  3:20). If we entrust ourselves to Him, He will defeat sin and lift us from our miseries. It is for us to acknowledge ourselves in need of mercy: it is the first step of the Christian journey; it is about entering through the open door that is Christ, where He Himself, the Saviour, awaits us and offers us a new and joyful life.
There is a second invitation of God coming through the prophet Joel: “Return to me with all your heart” (2:12). If there is a need to return it is because we have distanced ourselves. It is the mystery of sin: we are distanced from God, from others and from ourselves. It is not
difficult to realize it: we all see what an effort it is to really trust in God, to entrust ourselves to Him as Father, without fear; how arduous it is to love others; how hard it is to do true good while we are attracted and seduced by so many material realities, which vanish and in the end leave us poor. Beside this history of sin, Jesus has inaugurated a history of salvation. The Gospel that opens Lent invites us to be people ready to embrace the following remedies.
In the first place is prayer, an expression of openness and trust in the Lord: it is the personal encounter with Him, which shortens the distances created by sin. To pray means to say: “I’m not self-sufficient, I need You, You are my life and my salvation.”
In the second place is charity, which is to overcome extraneousness in dealing with others. True love, in fact, is not an external act; it isn’t to give something in a paternalistic way to quiet our conscience, but to accept one who is in need of our time, of our friendship, of our help. It is to live service, overcoming the temptation to satisfy ourselves.
In the third place is fasting and penance, which liberate us from dependencies in facing what is happening and to train us to be more sensitive and merciful. It is an invitation to simplicity and to sharing: to take something from our table and from our goods to rediscover the true good of freedom.
– Pope Francis
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