It is 6th March 2019. We begin the Lenten time with the Ash Wednesday. It is the day of fasting and abstinence. The forty days of regeneration of all that is buried by sin and sinful attitudes moistured by healing rays from Christ that dabs our hearts during this blessed time. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for us all Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. The most important and serious time for our souls. From the age 14, the law of abstaining from meat is applied. While the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. Canon Law instructs us: 1252 “The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.” The most favourable time of mercy and forgiveness of the Lord is now here. We are invited the Church warmly to do penance, to communicate with God through our personal and community prayers, to evaluate our relationship with the other persons and to heal the wounds of sin through almsgiving. It is time to realise that we have a loving God who forgives us when we make a special effort by journeying towards God. Let us take a spiritual inventory of our life and willing to humble ourselves to be holy by frequently approaching the doors of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The readings are from Joel 2:12-18; the second reading is from 2Corinthians 5:20-6:2; and the Gospel from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. The Mother Church places the ash on our head as a reminder ourselves that we will be returning to the mother earth and to proclaim a fast and prayer that is going to propel our heart to come closer to God. Ash symbolises mourning for our sins and willingness to do penance. It is time to abstain from meat and all kinds of pleasures, the unwanted words, thoughts, attitudes, behaviour patterns that make our souls to forget God and the responsibility we have towards one another. Ash Wednesday offers the satisfaction for our hunger. Nothing can satisfy our souls except God. No harm will come upon those who put the Ash on their foreheads. (Rev.9:4). No evil will touch us because of the mark that is put by God through the Church. (Ez.9:6). In the first reading, we are invited to return to the Lord by entering into our temples of the Holy Spirit, the inner sanctuary. St. Paul encourages us to take this time close to our being by believing and accepting this favourable time of spring for our souls. The responsorial Psalm pleads God, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps.50:3). In the Gospel Jesus admonishes that our penance, prayer and almsgiving must not attract anyone other than God. It is the change of mind and consistent decision to return to God. May we take this time of grace and healing seriously and decide to do some penance that would make us to feel and experience God in our lives. May our Lenten sacrifices allow someone to benefit. Remember the poor around you; in every fasting and penance to set apart the resources for them. May you have a good day.

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