Ash Wednesday – 14 February 2018

Ash Wednesday – 14 February 2018

Joel 2:12-18, 2 Corinthians 5:20 — 6:2, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

At the beginning of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, ashes are blessed during Mass, after the homily.   The blessed ashes are then “imposed” on the faithful as a sign of conversion, penance, fasting and human mortality.   The ashes are blessed at least during the first Mass of the day but they may also be imposed during all the Masses of the day, after the homily and even outside the time of Mass to meet the needs of the faithful.   Priests or deacons normally impart this sacramental but instituted acolytes, other extraordinary ministers or designated lay people may be delegated to impart ashes, if the bishop judges that this is necessary.   The ashes are made from the palms used at the previous Passion Sunday ceremonies. …— Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, Msgr. Peter J Elliott

The act of putting on ashes symbolises fragility and mortality and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God.   Far from being a merely external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolise that attitude of internal penance to which all the baptised are called during Lent. — Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

From the very early times the commemoration of the approach of Christ’s passion and death was observed by a period of self-denial.   St Athanasius in the year 339 enjoined upon the people of Alexandria the 40 days’ fast he saw practised in Rome and elsewhere, “to the end that while all the world is fasting, we who are in Egypt should not become a laughing stock as the only people who do not fast but take our pleasure in those days.” On Ash Wednesday in the early days, the Pope went barefoot to St Sabina’s in Rome “to begin with holy fasts the exercises of Christian warfare, that as we do battle with the spirits of evil, we may be protected by the help of self-denial.

“In the course of this trial of forty days, which our weakness only finds long, we shall not be deprived of our Saviour’s presence.   He has preceded and outpaced us on the royal road.   He has tried it and accomplished its course before us, in order to answer, by His example, the excuses and arguments our self-indulgence or pride may urge.   Let us accept the lesson fully and so arrive at an understanding of the law of expiation.   “Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is drawing near.”   Let us open our heart to this appeal, that the Saviour may not be compelled to awake us from our lethargy by the terrible threat He employed on another occasion:  “If you do not repent you shall all perish.”...Abbot Dom Prosper Gueranger

“The enormity of the fact that Christ has, on our behalf, already taken the most extreme punishment upon Himself, should move us, not to leave Him isolated.   It should also inspire us to rejoice that another has taken our place in representing sin before God – for not to rejoice at that, would be a further enormity.   Instead of leaving Him alone, we should be moved to enter into His suffering for us, doing together with Him, what little we can do, to atone for the world’s sin!”…Hans Urs von Balthasar “Light of the World”instead of leaving him alone - hans urs - 14 feb 2018 ash wed


Forgive my sins, O my God, forgive my sins:
the sins of youth,
the sins of age;
the sins of my soul
and the sins of my body;
the sins which, through frailty, I have committed;
my deliberate and grievous sins,
the sins I know and the sins I do not know,
the sins I have laboured so long to hide from others,
that now they are hidden from my own memory;
let me be absolved from all these iniquities
and delivered from the bond of all these evils,
by the Life, Passion, and Death
of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Amenact of contrition - ash wed - 14 feb 2018


Ash Wednesday – 14 February 2018 Message of the Holy Father Francis for Lent 2018 on the theme: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24: 12).

Message of the Holy Father

“Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24: 12)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near!   In our preparation for Easter, God in His providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”.   Lent summons us and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.

With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth.   I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:  “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).

These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time.   They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin.   In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself:  amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

False prophets
Let us listen to the Gospel passage and try to understand the guise such false prophets can assume.

They can appear as “snake charmers”, who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go.   How many of God’s children are mesmerised by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness! How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests!   How many go through life believing that they are sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!

False prophets can also be “charlatans”, who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless.   How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains!   How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless!   These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious:  dignity, freedom and the ability to love.   They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances but in the end they only make fools of us.   Nor should we be surprised.   In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth.   That is why each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets.   We must learn to look closely, beneath the surface, and to recognise what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because it comes from God and is truly for our benefit.

A cold heart
In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice, in frozen and loveless isolation.   We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us.   What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?

More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10).   The rejection of God and his peace soon follows;  we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments.   All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties”:  the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbour who does not live up to our expectations.

Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity.   The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest.   The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration.   The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing His praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.

Love can also grow cold in our own communities.   In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.

What are we to do?
Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described. But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception and then to find the consolation God offers.   He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.

Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister.   What I possess is never mine alone.   How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us!   How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church!   For this reason, I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Cor 8:10).   This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need.   Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God Himself.   When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of His children.   If through me, God helps someone today, will He not tomorrow provide for my own needs?   For no one is more generous than God.

Fasting weakens our tendency to violence;  it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth.   On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure.   On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God.   Fasting wakes us up.   It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour.   It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.

I would also like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice. Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyses hearts and actions and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family.   Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!

The fire of Easter
Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer.   If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God!   He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.

One such moment of grace will be, again this year, the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration.   In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness”, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March.   In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.

During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle.   Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly.   “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds” and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus.   By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.

With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing. Please do not forget to pray for me.

From the Vatican



Thought for the Day – 14 February – The Memorial of Sts Cyril (827-869) & Methodius (826-885)

Thought for the Day – 14 February – The Memorial of Sts Cyril (827-869) & Methodius (826-885)

Wishing now to sum up concisely the profile of the two Brothers, we should first recall the enthusiasm with which Cyril approached the writings of St Gregory of Nazianzus, learning from him the value of language in the transmission of the Revelation.   St Gregory had expressed the wish that Christ would speak through him:  “I am a servant of the Word, so I put myself at the service of the Word”.   Desirous of imitating Gregory in this service, Cyril asked Christ to deign to speak in Slavonic through him.   He introduced his work of translation with the solemn invocation:  “Listen, O all of you Slav Peoples, listen to the word that comes from God, the word that nourishes souls, the word that leads to the knowledge of God”.   In fact, a few years before the Prince of Moravia had asked the Emperor Michael III to send missionaries to his country, it seems that Cyril and his brother Methodius, surrounded by a group of disciples, were already working on the project of collecting the Christian dogmas in books written in Slavonic.   The need for new graphic characters closer to the language spoken was therefore clearly apparent:  so it was that the Glagolitic alphabet came into being.   Subsequently modified, it was later designated by the name “Cyrillic”, in honour of the man who inspired it.   It was a crucial event for the development of the Slav civilisation in general.   Cyril and Methodius were convinced that the individual peoples could not claim to have received the Revelation fully, unless they had heard it in their own language and read it in the characters proper to their own alphabet.

Methodius had the merit of ensuring that the work begun by his brother was not suddenly interrupted.   While Cyril, the “Philosopher”, was more inclined to contemplation, Methodius on the other hand had a leaning for the active life.   Thanks to this he was able to lay the foundations of the successive affirmation of what we might call the “Cyrillian-Methodian idea”:   it accompanied the Slav peoples in the different periods of their history, encouraging their cultural, national and religious development. This was already recognised by Pope Pius XI in his Apostolic Letter Quod Sanctum Cyrillum, in which he described the two Brothers:  “Sons of the East, with a Byzantine homeland, of Greek origin, for the Roman missions to reap Slav apostolic fruit” (AAS 19 [1927] 93-96).   The historic role they played was later officially proclaimed by St Pope John Paul II who, with his Apostolic Letter Egregiae Virtutis, declared them Co-Patrons of Europe, together with St Benedict (31 December 1980; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 19 January 1981, p. 3).

Cyril and Methodius are in fact a classic example of what today is meant by the term “inculturation”:  every people must integrate the message revealed into its own culture and express its saving truth in its own language.   This implies a very demanding effort of “translation” because it requires the identification of the appropriate words to present anew, without distortion, the riches of the revealed word.   The two holy Brothers have left us a most important testimony of this, to which the Church also looks today in order to draw from it inspiration and guidelines.   Pope Benedict XVI, Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The work of Saints Cyril and Methodius are a powerful reminder of our role in the celebration of the Liturgy.   God speaks to us—to each of us—in a language that we can understand and based upon that understanding we are called to live the Gospel.   We pray today for more active participation, greater comprehension and the ability to successfully live the Word of God for all to see!

Almighty and everlasting God, who by the power of the Holy Spirit moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people, overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever, amen.

Sts Cyril and Methodius, pray for us!sts-cyril-and-methodius-pray-for-us-14 feb 2018-no 2


Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, LENT, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS

Quote of the Day – 14 February 2018 – Ash Wednesday

Quote of the Day – 14 February 2018 – Ash Wednesday

He need not fear anything,
nor be ashamed of anything,
who bears the sign of the cross
on his brow.

St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Churchhe need not fear anything nor be ashamed - st augustine - 14 feb 2018 ash wed


One Minute Reflection – 14 February 2018 – Ash Wednesday

One Minute Reflection – 14 February 2018 – Ash Wednesday

When you fast …groom your hair and wash your face ….Your father, who sees what is hidden will repay you.…Matthew 6:17-18

Fasting 2

REFLECTION – “Fasting, when rightly practised, lifts the mind to God and mortifies the flesh. It makes virtue easy to attain and increases our merits.”…St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Churchfasting when rightly practised - st francis de sales - ash wed 14 feb 2018

PRAYER – Support us Lord, as with this Lenten fast we begin our Christian warfare, so that in doing battle against the spirit of evil, we may be armed with the weapon of self-denial.  Heavenly Father, help us to fast for the right reasons.   Teach us to fast to curb illicit desires and to obtain closer union with You.   Help us Lord, during this Lenten season to cleave to You alone and grow in sanctity and charity.   Create in me a clean heart O Lord!   Through our Lord Jesus Christ in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.o that today - ash wednesday 14 feb 2018


Our Morning Offering – 14 February – Ash Wednesday 2018

Our Morning Offering – 14 February – Ash Wednesday 2018

You alone are my All and Every Good
By Thomas à Kempis

O Lord, my God,
You are my all and every good.
And what am I, that I should presume to address You?
I am the poorest of Your servants and a wretched worm,
far more poor and worthless, than I can ever realise or express.
Yet, Lord, remember that I am nothing,
I have nothing
and can do nothing.
You alone are good, just and holy,
You can do all things, fill all things, bestow all things,
leaving only the wicked empty-handed.
Remember Your mercies, Lord
and fill my heart with Your grace,
since it is Your will, that none of Your works, should be worthless.
How can I endure this life of sorrows,
unless You strengthen me with Your mercy and grace?
Do not turn Your face from me;
do not delay Your coming,
nor withdraw Your consolation form me,
lest my soul become like a waterless desert.
Teach me, O Lord, to do Your will;
teach me to live worthily and humbly in Your sight;
for You are my wisdom, who know me truly
and who knew me before the world was made
and before I had my being.
Amenyou alone are my all and every good - st thomas a kempis - 14 feb 2018

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saints of the Day – 14 February – Sts Cyril (827-869) & Methodius (826-885)

Saints of the Day – 14 February – Sts Cyril (827-869) & Methodius (826-885) Bishops, Confessors, Theologians, Missionaries, Writers, Preachers, Patrons of Europe, Apostles to the Slavs.   Sts Cyril & Methodius were two brothers who were Byzantine Christian theologians and Christian missionaries.   Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they received the title “Apostles to the Slavs”.   They are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe Old Church Slavonic.   After their deaths, their pupils continued their missionary work among other Slavs.   In 1880, Pope Leo XIII introduced their feast into the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.   In 1980, St Pope John Paul II declared them co-patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia.Version 2st-cyril-methodius-02header-0214-SaintsCyrilandMethodius-790x480

St Cyril’s Patronages – against storms, ecumenism, Slavic peoples (given in 1863 by Pope Pius IX), unity of the Eastern and Western Churches, Bohemia, Bosnia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Carinthia, Austria, Carniola, Circassia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, Dacia, Dalmatia, Europe (given in 1980 by St Pope John Paul II), Khazaria, Krain, Krajna, Kranjska, Moravia, Pannonia, Russia, Silesia, Slovenia, Yugoslavia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, archdiocese of, Maribor, Slovenia, archdiocese of, Saints Cyril and Methodius of Toronto, Ontario, diocese of. St Methodius’s Patronages – against storms, ecumenism, Slavic peoples (given in 1863 by Pope Pius IX), unity of the Eastern and Western Churches, Bohemia, Bosnia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Carinthia, Austria, Carniola, Circassia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, Dacia, Dalmatia, Europe (given in 1980 by St Pope John Paul II), Khazaria, Krain, Krajna, Kranjska, Moravia, Pannonia, Russia, Silesia, Slovenia, Yugoslavia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, archdiocese of, Maribor, Slovenia, archdiocese of, Saints Cyril and Methodius of Toronto, Ontario, diocese of.

Methodius and Cyril (born Constantine) were born into a prominent Christian family in Thessalonica.   As the area in which they were raised was a popular spot for Slavic people to settle in, traditions tells us that the holy brothers grew up familiar with the Slavic language (Slavonic).   While we know their father was a prominent officer in the army, little is known of their young lives.   History has recorded that Methodius, the elder brother, rose to the position of an important civil authority, who likely dealt in law and trade.   His brother, Cyril, was trained as a scholar, professor and philosopher who gained renown in Constantinople.

After some years in public service, Methodius grew tired of worldly affairs and retired, seeking out solace and contemplation in a monastery.   Eventually, Cyril joined him there, refusing a district to govern, preferring quiet devotion to the Lord.   Together they lived in peace until the Byzantine emperor, having received a request for missionaries by the Moravian prince Rastislav, sent the brothers as missionaries to modern-day Ukraine.   Being familiar with the language and well-acquainted with administration and politics, they were the perfect choice for such a mission.   And given Rastislav’s desire for independence from Germany, Eastern missionaries (such as Methodius and Cyril) could help him gain independence over Church affairs.

Cyril and Methodius firmly believed that the Liturgy should be celebrated in the native language of the people, for greater inclusion in the Mass—a tradition which continues today.   At that time, many were committed to only celebrating Mass in Greek or Latin, but these holy brothers dedicated themselves to proving otherwise.   Prior to their departure for Moravia, they created a script for Slavonic (which had not previously existed).   Known as Glagolithic, this written script is considered the precursor to Cyrillic (named after Saint Cyril).  The creation of this script would allow the translation of Scripture and Liturgy into the language of the people.

Upon their arrival, Cyril immediately began translating the Liturgy into Slavonic.   This created anxiety in the German priests, who saw the use of language as the next step to Slavic independence, and they actively worked against the translation.   As neither Cyril nor Methodius was ordained a bishop, they travelled to Rome with their candidates for the priesthood to see the pope.   After an audience, the pope approved the use of the Slavonic language in services, ordaining the local priests and securing the presence of Catholicism in the region.

Sadly, Constantine never returned to Moravia.   He entered the monastery, taking the name Cyril and not long after died.   Methodius was stricken with grief and wished for nothing more than live the remainder of his days in the monastery but honoured a promise made to his brother and returned to finish their missionary work.   Due to the political upheaval in Moravia, he was forbidden to return there.   However, upon his ordination as bishop, he was invited to modern-day Serbia and Croatia, where he assumed the bishopric of Sirmium.   There he continued to say Mass and administer baptisms in the native, Slavonic tongue.

Again, falling victim to the anxiety of the German priests and bishops, Saint Methodius was imprisoned and only released following Moravian independence from German and intervention from the pope.   Again, Methodius traveled to Rome, meeting with the Pope, and explaining how important it was to celebrate the Liturgy in the tongue people understood.   Instead of condemning him, as the German bishops had hoped, the pope gave him permission to use Slavonic in the Mass, in Scripture reading and in the office. He also made him head of the hierarchy in Moravia.

Memorial Plaque to Sts Cyril & Methodius in Skopje

Saint Methodius, despite constant criticism and backlash, never stopped translating.   It is said that he had translated the Bible and the works of the Church Fathers into Slavonic before his death.

Posted in LENT, SAINT of the DAY

Ash Wednesday 2018 and Memorials of the Saints 14 February 2018

Ash Wednesday 2018:  The first day of the season of Lent, so called from the custom of marking the foreheads of the faithful with blessed ashes. Its date depends upon that of Easter, and this year it’s on 14 February.

St Cyril (Memorial)
St Methodius (Memorial)

St Valentine of Rome (Optional Memorial)

St Abraham of Harran
St Antoninus of Sorrento
St Auxentius of Bithynia
St Conran of Orkney
St Eleuchadius
St Juan García López-Rico
St Nostrianus of Naples
St Theodosius of Vaison
St Valentine of Terni
Bl Vicente Vilar David
St Vitale of Spoleto

20 Mercedarians of Palermo
Martyrs of Alexandria – 16 saints
Martyrs of Rome

Martyrs of Terni: Three Christians who gave proper burial to Saint Valentine of Terni. Martyred in the persecutions of Aurelius.
273 in Terni, Italy – Apollonius, Ephebus, Proculus.

Martyrs of Alexandria: A group of Christians murdered in various ways for their faith in Alexandria, Egypt. We know the names and a few details about 16 of them – Agatho, Agatone, Ammonio, Ammonius, Antonius, Bassiano, Bassianus, Cirione, Cyrio, Dionysius, Dionysius, Lucio, Moses, Moses, Proto and Tonione.