Ash Wednesday – text taken from the Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger:
Yesterday, the World was busy in its pleasures, and the very Children of God were taking a joyous farewell to mirth: but this morning, all is changed. The solemn announcement, spoken of by the Prophet, has been proclaimed in Sion: (Joel 2) the solemn Fast of Lent, the Season of expiation, the approach of the great Anniversaries of our Redemption. Let us,
then, rouse ourselves, and prepare for the spiritual combat.
We are entering, today, upon a long campaign of the warfare spoken of by the Apostles: — forty days of battle, — forty days of penance. We shall not turn cowards, if our souls can but be impressed with the conviction, that the battle and the penance must be gone through.
But, in this battling of the spirit against the flesh, we need good armour. Our holy Mother the Church knows how much we need it; and therefore does she summon us to enter into the House of God, that she may arm us for the holy contest. What this armour is we know from St. Paul, who thus describes it: “Have your loins girt about with Truth, and having on the Breast-plate of Justice. And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. In all things, taking the Shield of Faith. Take unto you the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17) The very Prince of the Apostles, too, addresses these solemn words to us: “Christ having suffered in the flesh, be ye also armed with the same thought” (1 Peter 4:1) We are entering, today, upon a long campaign of the warfare spoken of by the Apostles: — forty days of battle, — forty days of penance. We shall not turn cowards, if our souls can but be impressed with the conviction, that the battle and the penance must be gone through. Let us listen to the eloquence of the solemn Kite which opens our Lent. Let us go whither our Mother leads us, — that is, to the scene of The Fall.
We are entering, today, upon a long campaign of the warfare spoken of by the Apostles: — forty days of battle, — forty days of penance.
The enemies we have to fight with, are of two kinds: — internal, and external: — the first are our Passions; the second are the Devils. Both were brought on us by Pride, and man’s Pride began when he refused to obey his God. God forgave him his sin, but he punished him. The punishment was Death, and this was the form of the Divine Sentence: Thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return. (Genesis 3:19) O that we had remembered this ! The recollection of what we are and what we are to be, would have checked that haughty rebellion, which has so often led us to break the law of God. And if, for the time to come, we would persevere in loyalty to him, — we must humble ourselves, accept the Sentence, and look on this present life as a path to the grave. The path may be long, or short: — but to the Tomb it must lead us. Remembering this, we shall see all things in their true light. We shall love that God, who has deigned to set his heart on us, notwithstanding our being creatures of death: we shall hate, with deepest contrition, the insolence and ingratitude, wherewith we have spent so many of our few days of life, that is, in sinning against our Heavenly Father: and we shall be not only willing, but eager, to go through these days of penance, which he so mercifully gives us for making reparation to his offended Justice[…]
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