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Lent Begins: Ash Wednesday,Turn Away from Sin and Be Faithful to the Gospel

Who needs Lent? We all do

Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel! These are the words I will pronounce on  Ash Wednesday as the faithful come forward to receive ashes on their foreheads. Usually applied in the sign of the Cross, they are a symbol of our willingness to enter into a protracted period of prayer, fasting, repentance and almsgiving called Lent.


CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel! These are the words I will pronounce on  Ash Wednesday as the faithful come forward to receive ashes on their foreheads. Usually applied in the sign of the Cross, they are a symbol of our willingness to enter into a protracted period of prayer, fasting, repentance and almsgiving called Lent.

The word Lent is derived from the "lengthening" of the hours of the day every year. It is no accident that it falls in this transition time, when we move from the barrenness of winter with its long periods of darkness into the verdant new life and longer days of sunshine we call spring. There are other terms which have grown out of the practice of this penitential season, such as the use of the phrase the "Forty Days".

Its' practices of piety, penance, asceticism and special worship open us to a new experience of freedom through an encounter with the One who alone can truly set us free, Jesus Christ. Sometimes we hear the question, even from other Christians who do not keep the Lenten practices, who needs Lent? The answer is simple, we do.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that "In man, true freedom is an "outstanding manifestation of the divine image" (CCC #212) However, as a result of sin our freedom was fractured. Again the Catechism reminds us that "The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin." (CCC #1734) That last phrase is from the Apostle Paul. (Romans 6:17) That same Apostle reminds us that "it was for freedom that Christ set us free". (Gal. 5:1)

To an age enamored with false concepts of "choice" the Catholic Church rightly insists that some "choices" are always and everywhere wrong. She teaches that what is chosen not only affects the world - but changes the "chooser."  Saint Gregory of Nyssa gives some insights concerning our choices in an ancient homily, "Now, human life is always subject to change: it needs to be born ever anew.but here birth does not come about by a foreign intervention, as is the case with bodily beings, it is the result of a free choice. Thus we are in a certain way our own parents, creating ourselves as we will, by our decisions." Freedom has consequences and our choices make us.

The Venerable John Paul was a prophetic voice for authentic human freedom. So too is Pope Benedict XVI. Together, they give leadership to the emerging freedom movement of this Third Millennium. They expose the lies of this age and tell the truth about its illusory claims to freedom.  Pope Benedict spoke to an assembly of families  in 2005 of what he called "anarchic freedom": "Today's various forms of dissolution of marriage, free unions, trial marriages as well as the pseudo-matrimonies between people of the same sex are instead expressions of anarchic freedom which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man."

This "anarchic freedom" is what the Venerable John Paul referred to as a "counterfeit" notion of freedom.  It can lead to something he warned of in his extraordinary encyclical letter "The Gospel of Life", the "death of true freedom". Exposing the "erroneous interpretations of freedom" and proclaiming the full truth concerning freedom is the task of the hour and Pope Benedict XVI is clearly up to that task. Our invitation is to heed his words and follow them, committing ourselves to the struggle for freedom. In one of his seminal works entitled "Introduction to Christianity" he wrote: "one could very well describe Christianity as a philosophy of freedom."

Pope Benedict XVI once opined concerning legal abortion and creeping euthanasia: "The freedom to kill is not true freedom, but a tyranny that reduces the human being to slavery." By calling what is always wrong a "right", contemporary men and women are increasingly bound by the chains of their own self delusion, materialism and nihilism. They are being imprisoned by the lies of "anarchic freedom."

To an age enamored with so many false concepts of "choice" the Church proclaims the unchangeable truth that some "choices" are always and everywhere wrong. Choosing them does not make one free, rather it erodes freedom and leads to slavery. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses these wrong exercises of human freedom reminding us of the extraordinary implications of our use of our power to choose: "Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself." (CCC # 1861.)

It is not simply that we can choose; the real question is what do we choose?  Authentic Human Freedom will never be found in decisions that are made against God and against the Natural Law. During these forty days we are invited into the desert with the Lord to do battle with the world, the flesh and the devil. Sin has fractured our freedom. The Cross is the Splint sent from heaven to set us free.Lent is a time to apply the splint and learn to walk again.

During these forty days Catholic Online will provide our readers with articles, spiritual reflections, and catechetical instruction on the invitations of grace presented during this season called Lent. It is an opportunity for everyone of us to turn away from sin and learn how to be more faithful to the Gospel.  Now it begins.

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Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.

Keywords: Ash Wednesday, Lent, Penance, Conversion, repentance, sin, sorrow, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, Deacon Keith Fournier



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1 - 8 of 8 Comments

  1. Marites Lacre
    1 year ago

    thank you for widening my knowledge about Christ who suffered for me particularly. that's why i need to really obtain conversion...and renewal...

  2. Lonny D'Agostini
    3 years ago

    It is not enough for us to think rightly and to act rightly, we also have to feel rightly. While the memory may recall something evil (memorially) the will may refuse to act on it (volitionally) in accordance with reason (intellectually) even though the brain may visualize it (imagistically) and the heart is desiring it (emotionally).................

    If the body is that part of us which can be harmed physically through injury or disease, the spiritual soul is that part of us which can be harmed volitionally through sin, intellectually through error, and memorially through trauma (such trauma manifests itself in the sensitive soul as disordered affections). Yet there is no sin which man commits in which these three powers do not concur. Although spiritual wounds do not leave behind visible bodily marks one can nevertheless perceive the damage to the soul the subjects eyes, body language and behavior............

    It is the three powers of the spiritual soul which enable man to relate to each of Three Divine Persons. The Father is appropriated with will and activity, the Son with intellect and understanding and the Holy Spirit with memory and recollection........
    The next Fiat will accomplish the complete sanctification of man and will be entrusted in a special way to the Holy Spirit and His spouse, the Virgin Mary.

  3. Mary42
    3 years ago

    Thank you, Deacon Fournier for this very illuminating Post. Yes, we must always be alert to recognize the danger of interpreting what we shall choose to avoid the danger of following the fallen world.

  4. Albert Mendonca
    3 years ago

    A blessed and a fruitful lent to all.

  5. Michelle
    3 years ago

    A very well written, provoking and interesting article.

  6. Catholic
    3 years ago

    Wonderful article. Thank you. God bless you!!!

  7. Tony Oboh
    3 years ago

    keep up the good works. God bless you

  8. Tim Wilson
    3 years ago

    Great article! It's so true. I wish a light would just shine on everyone and they would just "Get it" and understand the truth. So many people are lost and going down the wrong paths. I pray that the members of the Catholic Church become this light and shine it on everyone that they know, and hopefully they will come back to the Church....

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