Matthew 5:48 “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Want to know what you need to do (and, if you are anything like me, you’re probably not doing it very well at all.) Read Matthew Chapter 5. You know, the one with the beatitudes, plucking out eyes and cutting off hands, and anger, and adultery, and divorce, and swearing, and retaliation, and loving one’s enemies. One can’t read this Chapter without realizing what little worms we are when it comes to the whole perfection thing. I read Chapter 5 before and after going to confession. This and Chapter 25 are all I need to trot myself off to the confessional. Add the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and I can go all gooey on the inside contemplating my long stay in Purgatory.
And yet. . .
God gives us grace and forgiveness and mercy to help us to prioritize the pursuit of holiness in our lives. Pursuing holiness begins with having a strong, true, and ardent love for God and for our neighbor. It means praying and fasting and making each word and act and little daily sacrifice the means of proving our love for our Savior who died on the cross for Love of us. An effective love can transform a dry, cold heart into a furnace of charity. Then we can burn with Love of God even while we must live here below. I hope you, like myself, pursue this ardent charity.
We got to get this right.
“Lord, with your loving care, guide the penance we have begun. Help us to persevere with love and sincerity. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” Liturgy of the Hours: Evening Prayer for the Friday after Ash Wednesday.
Filed under Almsgiving, Beatitudes, Catholic, Charity, Faith, Fasting, Gospel, Holiness, Liturgy of the Hours, Love, New Testament
About three years ago, my husband and I began to read the Gospels, (out loud) two chapters at a time, on Ash Wednesday. We found that by doing so we could read all four Gospels by Holy Saturday. The first time, we continued after Easter and read until the end of the NT. Then we began the New Testament again and read it through 2 chapters a night. Then, we began to read the Old Testament, the same way. We are only to the end of Wisdom, so we have set it aside and began the Gospels again tonight.
Everyone else reads other books for their spiritual reading during Lent. We just stick with the Gospels. Doing so, we have had great Lents for the past three years.
So after dinner tonight, we began. Matthew Chapters 1 and 2. What is Jesus’ ancestry and where was He born? I especially like the verses about St. Joseph dreaming of angels. He was such a man of faith! That we would have just a bit of his faith and humility, we too could dream of angels.
Finally, today’s liturgy is an invitation to penance. The predominant thought of the day should be that while physical penance is okay, we need spiritual penance–humility, recognition of our faults, a steadfast heart, and the reformation of our lives. The Lord wants us to be converted to Him with all our hearts, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning. He wants us to “rend our hearts; not just our garments.”
Lord, protect us in our struggle against evil. As we begin the discipline of Lent, make this day holy by our self-denial. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. (Liturgy of the Hours for Ash Wednesday-Evening Prayer)
Ephesians 4: 29-32 is both invitation and warning. It invites us to avoid sin and all occasions of sin. It warns us that the Person of the Holy Spirit will be insulted by our sin.
St. Paul gives us a list to follow especially where it concerns destructive and devisive speech. He tell us to put away all
- and Slander
We are to
- be Kind to one another
- be Tenderhearted
- be Forgiving
Remembering the words of our Savior in the Our Father, we thank God for His mercy towards us by showing mercy to others. Forgiveness!
St. Paul wants “no evil talk” coming out of our mouths. Whatever we speak should be “edifying” that “it may impart grace to those who hear.”
He also alludes to Is 63:10 where the Prophet recalls how the Exodus generation of Israel grieved the Holy Spirit by grumbling against the Lord and Moses.
Heaven help us! When I read what passes for discourse today in the age of Facebook and Twitter, I’m reminded that we, too, are a perverse generation, grumbling against the Lord, and grieving the Holy Spirit by our lack of charity and forgiveness.
We need the Holy Spirit to actually intercede for us. Pray with me these intercessions from the Liturgy of the Hours’ morning prayer for today. “Lord, pour out your mercy upon us.”
Christ, Rising Sun, warm us with your rays, and restrain us from every evil impulse.
Keep guard over our thoughts, words, and actions, and make us pleasing in your sight this day.
Turn your gaze from our sinfulness, and cleanse us from our iniquities.
Through your cross and resurrection, fill us with the consolation of the Spirit.