Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday - Lenten Season

BEADS OF JOY 2-22-12 “Gospel Decades”
©2012 James Dacey, Jr. OFS

Today is Ash Wednesday in the Lenten Season Time B
Today’s Gospel is: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
(Prayer, Almsgiving and Fasting)


Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you…”
1 – Our Father -10 Hail Mary’s –Glory be… - Oh My Jesus…

Reflection: My Friends…

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving…
During this Lenten Season many of us can make some serious changes in our lives. This is a wonderful time to make changes in our lives. Just try to keep all things in perspective going and growing simply one day at a time. These first four days represent a sort of starting point, a preparation period where we can focus on: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Three very important elements to our faith, these three traditionally are a very important part of our Lenten Journey. Four separate yet all equal portions of a very spectacular quest as we go day to day through Lent together. Let us look at what each of these mean to our faith:

Prayer:
This is the most wonderful special act of love, so many of us share every single day. In prayer we lift up our soul to God in love and praise and thanksgiving. Prayer builds up and empowers our faith, and faith comes from our hope, and our hope and desire for Him leads us to hunger, a hunger for Him and His word and the grace that leads us to God, which leads us to prayer. I just tried to lay that out all by myself. Was anyone able to follow that? lol. Prayer is an essential part of who we are in God, and in our walk following after Jesus. We must be a praying people, our communication with God is vital to our eternal life and the transition that we will go through at our death. I encourage you to please pick a devotion that is of interest to you, and then try to pray and speak to God every single day. Our conversation doesn't necessarily have to be written prayers only, we can speak plainly to Him also. We are in relationship to a person, Jesus. And in that relationship we can freely talk and share and open our hearts to Him.

Fasting:
This isn't easy for everybody. But this has a lot of spiritual value added to the experience. Fasting is about curbing down our desires in our appetite that appetite could be for anything. This in turn creates a hunger for God, which is key to living our lives in Jesus. If many of our pleasures are fulfilled with food, we will have much less desire for God. I will share with you something I told Fr. Mullally a while ago (actually many many years ago), as to how and why I fast. Believe it or not, it's not health related at all. To me fasting is a spiritual experience. I fast as an offering to all those who hunger and starve around the world. I do that so that I feel the hunger pangs. I want to feel their pain and suffering, so that I can offer the reality of the pain of starvation. No I don't starve myself, but I have done very long fasts for that sole purpose. I have found that when you are "starving - very very hungry" you tend to draw so much closer to Jesus spiritually, that it can't really do justice trying to explain it in words. Don't do these things if your health requires medication and food intake. First consult your doctor and make sure it is safe. Please...

Almsgiving:
This evolves from our prayers and our fasting. Charity in all forms: your time, your talents, your treasures, whatever you can do to help further the spreading of the word and love of God. Most all of us belong to church communities, we should invest in them to help support them in whatever way you can. I tell you the following for the sole purpose to share ideas that maybe you can use; back in the past when I was in business, we as a family gave both our treasures and volunteer time. Now with all our challenges and lack thereof, we do our best to increase our time offered. I know once we move back in town we will return to our old way of living. And some of you might be saying, "What is that?" Our lives, our day to day, our weekends revolved around our St. Patrick's Church community activities, and schedule. When we lived in town in the past, we pretty much were involved with everything at our parish. I strongly encourage you to try this. If you are anything like me and my family, once you do that, you will always be very involved in whatever capacity you can help.

Another quick note on giving, especially to your parish; please make it a habit to GIVE, no matter what; even if you are poor. I’m not saying “should we buy food for the kids?” or give to the church? I’m saying make it habit that no matter what you give, and if you can afford a dollar (shame on you), you most likely can afford a $5 or $10 or a $20 every single week and it won’t hurt you at all. Our family tradition of understanding “how do we fill our church envelopes” every week is simple. No matter what we must give to our church, OUR CHURCH, we must; and even if we have to take all the change and money we can scrounge up in the house and cars, like five or ten dollars in loose change, pack it up and give it to the church. When should we give? Always... When should we give even more? When we can’t afford to. A similar thought is: When do we pray? Always.. What happens when we have no time to pray? We should pray even more…

Trust fully and completely in Jesus. I promise you, from personal experience in these matters, He shall provide and take good care of you and your family. I’m not preaching this, we’ve lived this.

Questions we may wish to Ponder Today:
-Do we hunger for God?
-Each day do we seek the bread of life or His word or the Eucharist?
-Do we have a daily prayer life? If not, why not?
-What devotion of prayer interests you?
-Have you ever fasted before? Might you?
-Now after today's meditation would you consider fasting?
-How might you give your personal charity to your parish?
-Would you ever consider joining a ministry? Think about it.

Your brother in Christ Jesus & His Most Blessed Mother,
Jim (The Rosary Man) Dacey Jr OFS