ASH WEDNESDAY
Fr. Brian Nolan

 

"Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of redemption."
2 Cor. 6:2

 

Some years ago I was visiting my four and five years old nephews in northern Virginia who loved running races with one another. Any person could say, "race to the tree and back" or "race around the back yard" followed by the words, "Ready…Set…" and they would immediately stop what they were doing and face the direction of the race. When you said, "Go" they would take off running full throttle doing anything to beat the other in the race.

 

Although the goal of the spiritual life is not to out-run our neighbor, it is a call to "run the race" (1 Cor. 9:24). Lent is a time of spiritual preparation that is both universal (all Catholics are called to participate) and personal (each person runs it differently, at their own pace and speed).

 

As Christians we should always be "ready and set," but Ash Wednesday is a call to "go" and begin a forty-day preparation for deepening our love for God and our neighbor. Every Catholic is called to grow in all three practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer is growing in our love for Jesus Christ through spending some extended daily time with Him, at least 15-20 minutes. Fasting is making a sacrifice of food or tempering a love for things or activities - other loves - to make more room for the love of God within us. Almsgiving or charity is growing in our love for our neighbor in concrete ways.

 

On Ash Wednesday, the clock has started, time has begun. Don't be left behind, but enter into the forty-day race of growing more intentionally and intensively in the spiritual life. "Now is the time, now is the day." (2 Cor. 6:2) Don't wait. Ready…Set…Go.

 

Jl 2: 12-18, Ps 51: 3-6, 12-14, 17, 2 Cor 5: 20 -6: 2; Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

 

Dear Lord, help me to run the good race this Lent, and the rest of my life. Amen.