Prayer, Almsgiving and Fasting

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of another journey through Lent. Lent lasts for 40 days. If you count the days from today to Easter, you’ll note that there are 46 days. Why is that? We don’t count the Sundays of the Lenten season as part of Lent. Every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. That’s why on Sundays during Lent, you’re not bound to your Lenten fast. I’m not saying you should imbibe in something that you’ve given up for Lent on Sundays, but, technically, you could. Your call!

The Ash Wednesday readings are so beautiful. In the first reading, we hear God proclaiming a fast for the people in Joel 2. The Responsorial Psalm is the striking and beautiful Psalm 51. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that “now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Our Gospel reading is from Matthew 6. Here Jesus tells us about the three pillars of Lent: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes it clear that these things are not optional for the disciple. He says, “WHEN you give alms…WHEN you pray…WHEN you fast…” (emphasis mine) Holy Mother Church gives us this wonderful season to help us get back to the basics. Sort of like spiritual spring training. The word “lent” means spring. Whatever you decide to take on or give up, I pray that God will give you the strength and endurance you need, and that your practices will bear much fruit in your life.

Father, may our Lenten practices draw us closer to you, as we offer up our sacrifices to unite with the sufferings of Christ. Amen.

Today’s Readings


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