A Common Pledge

Maybe you have not yet given a thought to it yet. Maybe all that is missing is the invitation. So, I’m inviting you, early. Now is a good time to remember what you remember and reengage the Why of the What we do.

Fat Tuesday is enough to clear the cupboard and that sounds like plenty of time. Receiving Ashes for everyone is so much more. It is a time of reconnection. A renewed examination of conscience. By sheer fact of the attendance swell and the appearance of retired Catholics and the welcoming of new Christians, there is something more than just an event. It is a turning point not to be missed.

It is a treasure to receive the retired Catholics. You are the bearers of the gift of living faith. You are the living example of the received faith that brings all of us today. You are what our grandparents and parents are in our warmest memories.

It is a treasure to receive the new and other-tradition Christians. On this one day, we find a connection our differences wish to hide but together we do not: There is a God and I am not him. As a person and as persons of common baptism, we strive once again to move our tents in the desert, from one encampment to another until one day we arrive together to the Promise End.

Accept my invitation. RSVP here. March 2nd, 2022.

Below is a cut-out of a paper in progress, published early.

Ash Wednesday is a pivot moment in the liturgical calendar. It marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a recapitulation of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert and he had to confront the perplexity and contradiction of the human heart. Not as an intellectual exercise or spiritual exercise divorced from the physical life but rather deeply imbedded into the physical life.

Ash Wednesday begins A Common Pledge of the faithful.

  1. We wish to gain greater intimacy with God.
  2. We wish to gain the greater intimacy with God as a community.
  3. We pledge sincerity and avoid hypocrisy (“role playing as an actor in a play”).
  4. We pledge to engage in deeper forms of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
  5. We pledge courage to identify with the victim when it is so and identify with the perpetrator when appropriate. Sometimes we are both at the same time! Sometimes we cannot see because it is too painful. But together we can.

Ash Wednesday Liturgy

In all three reading cycles we read from the gospel of Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18.

Jesus discusses the need for sincerity in regards to:

  1. Almsgiving
  2. Prayer
  3. Fasting

Each of these are liturgical actions embedded in the physical life. Said another way, almsgiving, prayer and fasting are forms of worship of the Divine by way of the things we do for others and for the Lord, both.

A KEY part of the message of Jesus is the meeting of the Other in the moment of the action. The action, important of itself, but has a transcendent quality to it. To quote again: in face of the directness of the relation everything becomes irrelevant.

Hunger (Fasting) – humans hunger not just for the body but also the soul yearns for the Lord. Relation, not object to satisfy. (Resp) One does not live by bread alone, but by every word the comes forth from the mouth of God (MT 4;4b).

Desire (Prayer) – Prayer for the good of the other. Prayer for the good of relation. Throw yourself down. (Resp) You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test (MT 4:5d, 7b). Relation, not object to satisfy.

Power (Almsgiving) – Giving for the good of the other. Giving for the good of relation. Worship me. (Resp) The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve (MT4:9, 10b). Relation, not object to satisfy.

Reflection

Almsgiving, prayer and fasting. The disciplines of Lent.

  1. When you give alms, pray or fast what direct relation is involved?
  2. How are you relating to the Lord? To the other of your intention?
  3. Can you sense any connection?

Angels Ministered to Him

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him (MT 4:11).

Try not to worry. Just try to be good.

Angels help us and minister to us as we struggle with our difficulties.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

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