Ash Wednesday: Begin with a Generous Heart

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By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

“As we take up battle against spiritual evils, may we be armed with weapons of self-restraint.” (Prayer for Ash Wednesday Mass)

We peacemakers dislike the image of war being used in the Lenten season. Yet, in reality we often face a mental battle with our inner self as we try to be faithful to our Lenten resolutions.

We have made those resolutions with serious and bold intent: To fast in some form or other … To add more time for prayer … To do some added acts of charity.

But at the end of the day, we forget. Or we hear ourselves saying, “I am too weary.” Our Ash Wednesday zeal dwindles to excuses, our can-do spirit turns to a feeling of guilt.

Never fear! Jesus is not a score keeper. He understands our weakness and fragility.

The season of Lent is about generosity, not triumph. It’s about discipleship, not rules. It’s about trying to follow the peaceful way of Jesus in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Caring. Forgiveness. Kindness.

So let us begin Lent with a generous heart, asking Jesus to protect us in our struggle against selfishness.

Let us ask Jesus to grant us, instead, a spirit of genuine self-denial … and humbly begin each day anew.

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