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Thursday After Ash Wednesday

February 23, 2012

Blessed St. Polycarp’s Day!

His story can be found here.

And here’s Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for Lent 2012.

Prompt our actions with Your inspiration, we pray, O Lord,
and further them with Your constant help,
that all we do may always begin from You
and by You be brought to completion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer from Mass)

Today’s readings:
Deuteronomy. 30:15-20 (choose life; choose God)
Psalm 1: 1-6 “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord”
+Luke 9:22-25 (following Christ means denying ourselves)

The ability to choose is a dangerous thing.

It cost Lucifer his place as the highest of the angels in Heaven.
It brought death and suffering and evil into the world at the hands of Adam and Eve.
It cost an entire generation their entrance into the Promised land.

In fact, every evil, past, present or future,
can be traced back to the abuse of this divine gift of free choice.

It’s a dangerous thing.

Yet God values it so very highly
that even though He knew before He ever created it
that we would abuse it
He wanted us to have it anyway.
He wanted us to be free.
He wanted us to be able to love, to respond to Him in a personal way.

At the same time, He also wanted to protect us from the danger!
As loving parents carefully teach their children
the rules of using fire, poison and power tools safely,
so God spells out the safety measures necessary for handling our free choice
to maximize the benefits
and minimize the risks.
He’s left us plenty of object lessons of what happens when we don’t.
It isn’t pretty…

But all of His efforts won’t do us any good unless we learn and apply His lessons!

That doesn’t just happen.
We won’t learn God’s safety measures from our culture (quite the opposite).
Nor will we learn them by just going about business as usual.
And no, an hour on Sunday is not enough!
(That’s a common realization in adult ed.–from surprised participants!)

It’s going to take some effort.
We’ll need to deny ourselves,
take up the crosses of study and obedience,
and follow Him.

We’ll need to crack open the Scriptures,
find trustworthy commentary (if you want suggestions, leave a comment!),
study Church teaching (the Catechism, Catholic radio or TV, parish-sponsored classes,
trustworthy Catholic books, etc.),
examine our lives and realign our choices with what we’ve learned
(sacramental Confession is a big help here).
We will never exhaust these sources!

That’s the path of life.
If we try to hang onto life as we know it, we’ll lose it–as surely as Adam did.
If we lose it in imitation of Christ
we will experience nothing less than resurrection from the dead with Him!

What steps will you take this Lent to grow in your faith,
to learn God’s rules for the best use of your momentous gift of free choice?
How often will you examine your conscience, and using what resources for guidance?
How often will you take advantage of sacramental Confession
to receive the supernatural empowerment to carry out your good resolutions?

May the losing of life as you know it this Lent
be for you the path to a resurrected life beyond your wildest dreams!

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