From the tradition:
“Do penance, performing worthy fruits of penance.”—St. Francis of Assisi, Earlier Rule, 21:3
For your reflection:
You haven’t celebrated Ash Wednesday until you’ve done so at St. Anthony Shrine in downtown Boston. Every year, some 30,000 people stream into the friars’ church for the official beginning of Lent. The pews are jammed with corporate executives and street people; stock brokers and store clerks; bicycle messengers and medical personnel; students and secretaries; lawyers and accountants; politicians and petty crooks, who, come to think of it, are sometimes the same people. And why do they come? Ash Wednesday isn’t a holy day of obligation. The friars aren’t giving anything away except for the burned residue of last year’s palms. The popularity of Ash Wednesday in Boston has nothing to do with bargain hunting and everything to do with a desire for change. Tired of the same old, same old, the vast crowds that filled the Shrine last week are looking for something new in their lives. They want to live life more intentionally, more deeply, more abundantly. They seek some sort of transformation in the attitudes and behaviors they bring to their personal and professional relationships—the transformation St. Francis calls “penance” and its “worthy fruits.” Like the public ministry of Jesus, Lent begins with a summons to change: “Repent and believe in the gospel,” and that summons strikes a chord in the hearts of men and women, not only in Boston, but around the world. What change do you desire this Lent? Better yet, what change does Christ desire from you? Maybe you should ask him.
For your prayer and petition:
Lord, give us insight into what needs changing in our lives, and the good sense to get out of your way so that your grace can work its wonders within us and among us.