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Homily for Ash Wednesday

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordFebruary 14, 2024
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Today’s readings are Joel 2: 12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Cor. 5:20 – 6:2; and Mt. 2: 1-6, 16-18

Ash Wednesday – the start of the sacred season that in English we call Lent. Our word Lent comes from an old English word “lencten” – which literally means “springtime”.  Have you ever thought of Lent as springtime?  Certainly, it doesn’t feel like spring right now.  But think of what happens in springtime – the world comes back to life – the trees, the flowers, the grass, the birds, the animals – and even the temperature. 

Each year the Church invites you to make Lent your own personal springtime – a time of personal and spiritual growth.  The Church also encourages us to practice various Lenten activities like prayer and fasting and almsgiving that we heard of in our gospel.  But don’t think of them as mere drudgery – rather consider them as aids that will help “the new you” begin to unfold in these 40 days.   

Happy Lent everyone!

P.S. An interesting thing about our Lenten season is the variety of names for it, based on language.  In Latin, this season is called Quadragesima – literally, fortieth – reflecting the 40 days of this season. Latin languages have adapted this idea in their names for this season, like Quaresima in Italian or Quaresma in Portuguese.  In the Slavic languages the name is based on the fasting done in Lent.  Hence this season in Czech is called postni doba – literally, fasting period.  In Russian, it is veliki post – the great fast.