Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Stations of the Cross

Ash Wednesday

Today we begin our 40 day journey through the prayers of the new translation of the Roman Missal. The collect (opening prayer) for today's Mass is:

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting
this campaign of Christian service,
so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils,
we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

This prayer, in no uncertain terms, sets the theme for the holy season of Lent. This season is presented to us as a battle, a war, a fierce struggle against the powers of evil. Surely, we find ourselves today in the midst of a great spiritual battle for our souls and the souls of all mankind.

All around us the battle for souls rages, and today we are invited to join this battle. We are called to take part in this "campaign of Christian service" by taking up the "weapons of self-restraint." By restraining our desires, even those desires that are good, we train our will, we build our spiritual muscles, so that when the evil one attacks, we will be able to withstand his fiery arrows of temptation.

Today as we fast and abstain from meat, let us see this self-restraint not as a burden, but as a powerful weapon with which we strike the evil one. Let us see it as a way to strengthen our will to fight against temptation.

Let us pray for one another and support one another in our Lenten penances. We are all brothers and sisters, fellow soldiers in the army of the Great King. We are fighting side by side. We are never alone in battle. We have the greatest King in the Universe, a host of heavenly helpers, an army of saints who have won the victory and urge us on to victory, and the weapons of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Let us take up our weapons and join the battle. Let us fight to win.