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Ash Wednesday

      Today we embark on our Lenten journey so as to prepare ourselves for the grand celebration of Easter. Every year we are given this season to make sure our hearts, minds, and souls are ready to be crucified with Christ and to resurrect with him. Lent is a penitential time, when we come asking for forgiveness of our sins. At the same time, we must not drown in these thoughts, but be happy and rejoice when Easter comes because all sin is wiped away. But thats still 40 days away.

     On starting this Lenten journey, we hear the teaching from Jesus on prayer, fasting, and alms giving. In it, Jesus gives an outline, or a map of the directions we should be going on our Lenten spiritual journey.  These three things are the staples to seeing, and fully participating in the Easter events. It is through these three actions that we become closer with God, others and how we build Gods kingdom on earth,

     During his teaching, Jesus stresses the necessity to do these things in private. It is so that we may not brag, show off, and have others subtract us, or tempt us on our journey to God. It is our connection with God, nobody else's. So Jesus requires of us to do these things in private so has to grow a deeper connection with God, and to become reliant on Gods approval and no one elses.

    As humans we have a tenancy of always wanting approval from others. We always want approval for many things. For example on how we look. We will look in mirrors making sure we are ready, and asking others opinion if this shirt goes with these pants. Their is nothing wrong with this. But our lenten journey must be an encounter with Christ. The church is here to guide us, and to supply us with the ways of having this encounter.

     While others are busying looking on our outward appearance, God is searching for our hearts. He doesn't care about the clothes we wear, the things on the outside, he cares about the heart. The heart is the place of love, compassion, and fidelity. The heart is the place where God looks. Jesus stresses these three actions of prayer, fasting, and alms giving, because they build our relationship with God, which is only visible from the heart.

      On the first day of our Lenten journey, we begin by placing ashes on our head. These ashes come from the burnt palms from last years palm Sunday. I think this is a neat tradition that has arisen, because in a way it helps us to realize that the cross, is where we are headed on this journey, and that we to will rise with Christ.  Depending on where you are in the world, the tradition is different. In some places the ashes are placed on your forehead, and in others the ashes are sprinkled on top of your head. This is a tradition long held in the church and you can see it happening in Rome. It is very neat to see, as it is different from the marking on the forehead here in North America.

     As we are marked with ashes today, may we become examples of Christ love to the world. It is through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that we truly travel on the Lenten journey. These are the guiders, to guide our directions to the Easter Celebration. May we come to repent from our sins this lent and truly turn to the Gospel. May we come to develop our heart, the place of love, faith, compassion and fidelity.

p.s I am not saying that Prayer, Fasting and alms giving are the only things that increase our spirituality. No. Their are plenty of things. What I am saying is that these three are the staple, the basic, the outline, of our spiritual journey. These things help form our journey, and bring us closer to Christ.


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