John Paul II's Homily for Ash Wednesday
How External Gestures of Penance Have Value
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2004 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the homily John Paul II delivered during the Celebration of the Word at which he presided today, Ash Wednesday, in St. Peter's Basilica.
* * *
1. "Your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:4 and 6:18). These words of Christ are addressed to each one of us at the beginning of the Lenten journey. We begin it with the Imposition of Ashes, austere penitential gesture, so dear to the Christian tradition. It underlines man's awareness of himself as sinner before the majesty and holiness of God. At the same time, it manifests a willingness to accept and to translate into concrete choices one's adherence to the Gospel.
The formulas that accompany it are very eloquent. The first, taken from the Book of Genesis: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (see 3:19), recalls the present human condition placed under the sign of transience and limitation. The second takes up the evangelical words: "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15), which are an urgent appeal to change one's life. Both formulas invite us to enter into Lent with an attitude of listening and sincere conversion.
2. The Gospel underlines that the Lord "sees in secret," that is, he scrutinizes the heart. The external gestures of penance have value if they are expressions of an interior attitude, if they manifest the firm determination to turn away from evil and walk on the path of goodness. Here is the profound meaning of Christian asceticism.
"Ascesis": the word itself evokes the image of rising to lofty ends. This necessarily entails sacrifices and renunciations. In fact, one must reduce the baggage to the essential so as not to be weighed down on the journey; to be ready to face any difficulty and to overcome all obstacles to reach the desired objective. To become genuine disciples of Christ, it is necessary to deny oneself, to take up one's cross every day, and to follow him (see Luke 9:23). It is the arduous path of holiness, which every baptized person is called to follow.
3. The Church has always indicated some useful means to advance on this path. First of all, humble and docile adherence to the will of God accompanied by incessant prayer; the penitential forms that are typical of the Christian tradition, such as abstinence, fasting, mortification and self-denial even of goods that are legitimate in themselves; concrete gestures of acceptance in relating to one's neighbor, which today's page of the Gospel evokes with the word "alms." All this is proposed again with greater intensity during the Lenten period, which represents, in this connection, an "intense time" of spiritual training and of generous service to brothers.
4. To this end, in the Message for Lent I wished to draw attention, in particular, to the difficult conditions in which so many children of the world find themselves, recalling the words of Christ: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Matthew 18:5). Who, indeed, more than a helpless and fragile child has need to be defended and protected?
The problems that assail the world of children are many and complex. I very much hope that to these smallest brothers of ours, often abandoned to themselves, will be given the care that is due to them thanks also to our solidarity. It is a concrete way to translate our Lenten effort.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, with such sentiments we begin Lent, a journey of prayer, penance, and authentic Christian asceticism. May Mary, the Mother of Christ, accompany us. May her example and her intercession help us to proceed with joy toward Easter.
John Paul II
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Pope John Paul II - Holy See, 661 869-1000
Ash Wednesday, Lent, Pope, Homily
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- St. Finbar: Saint of the Day for Monday, September 25, 2017
- Daily Readings for Monday, September 25, 2017
- Trump speech rocks NFL as more players protest during Anthem HD Video
- Trump speech rocks the NFL, protests spread, but who's right?
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 HD Video
- 50 years of Israeli occupation - enough is enough!
- Elizabeth Warren - Another liberal hypocrite, scam artist exposed
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Monday, September 25th, 2017 HD
- Woman photographs angel in flight, is it here to deliver a message? HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, September 24th, 2017 HD