Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | February 15, 2010

Ash Weds Reflection

Joel 2, 12-18; Ps 51, 3-5. 12-14. 17; 2 Cor 5, 20-6, 2; Matt 6, 1-6, 16-18

I don’t know about you, but I am a great sinner. I fail greatly in living the Catholic Faith. There are many temptations that I give into that I could easily avoid. The first thing that we’re invited to do is return to the Lord.

The Sacrament of Penance is the primary way that we can return to the way of the Lord. Why?

In short, Jesus said so “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20, 23) speaking to the Apostles’ who would be the first Bishops in the Church.

In the Sacrament of Penance we must do the following, in case you forgot.

1. You must have contrite heart. You may have atrition (or imperfect contrition) (the fear of going to hell). Or perfect contrition (the fear of sin because it offends God) to satisfy this condition.
2. You must confess all mortal sins time and number times you did them. If you accidently forgot a mortal sin and it comes to your mind during confession, you must confess that as well. It is not required that you confess venial sins. Though as a practice of purgation you may confess them.
3. Do the ascribed penance whatever it happens to be. The priest is obligated to give you a type of penance. If he does not give you one, then you have right to ask for one. This is the penalty for your offense.
4. Avoid the near occasion of sin. Obviously you will fall again. The grace that is given in the Sacrament is enough. Obviously you should try to transform your life so that you dno’t fall into the same sin again. Sin is a habit that dies slowly, it takes time and patience, but you’ll find that you’re committing the same sins less and less with prayer and the said effort to transform your life.

The means of transformation

1. Prayer: In the Gospel that we read the verses that were skipped were that of the Our Father, which I’m sure all of you have memorized by heart. It’s the perfect prayer obviously because God himself taught us this prayer in the 2nd Person of the Trinity. You’ll hear in many classes the acronym ACTS, which stands for Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication respectively. All our prayers should be structured this way. In this way failure would be pretty difficult. I’ll quickly mention the first 2.

Adoration: What is rightly due to God, For without him we are nothing. We first recognize God for who He is God. I know that’s difficult for us now and days in a culture that promotes the government or us as god’s respectively. The order of creation/world points to the infinite God. Bear in mind the person writing this blog is a math and physics mind, and didn’t really study the subjects with an attempt to get close to God, but rather because he enjoyed the the subject matters, but go figure what happened, they brought him closer to God and the right order of the world.

Contrition: The 2nd part is being contrite for the numberless sins that we’ve committed. In the Traditional Mass the priest prays during the offering of the host “suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus, hanc immaculatam hostiam, quam ego indignus famulus tuus offero tibi Deo meo vivo et vero pro innumerabilius peccatis et offesionibus et negligentiis meis et pro omnibus circumstantibus” Which translates “Accept O Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless Host which I Thine unworthy servant offer unto Thee, my living and true God for my numberless sins, offenses and negligences on behalf of all here present” The constant theme of unworthiness and knowing Who we offend when we sin. Sin is an offense against God ultimately. In the responsorial psalm we pray “Be Merciful O Lord, for we have sinned.” We hope for the mercy of God come final judgement, and we pray for the grace to not fall into temptation.

2. Fasting and abstinence (not sexual, abstaining from meat)

The first question, I’m asked “Does fasting mean starving yourself?”

No, The Church obviously doesn’t want you to die off or have a burden that you can’t handle. The current discipline of fasting in the Latin Church is as follows.

One Large meal per day. Or you may have 2 smaller meals that do NOT add up to a large meal

Abstinence: no meat is on Fridays, Ash Weds and Good Friday. (yes, chicken is meat…of course I have exuse to eat spagetti, not complaining about that.

CIC 1250: All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

CIC 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

CIC 1252 All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

Though these have been abrogated by the current CIC, these give definitions to what’s mentioned in the current CIC

History – Code of Canon Law 1917 edition

The laws regarding abstinence and fast were codified in the old (1917) Code of Canon Law, which are abrogated by the 1983 Code; however this is where one finds the PRECISE definitions of fast and abstinence that are now retained as “traditional”. – hhh

Here are the relevant 1917 Canons:

Canon 1250. The law of abstinence prohibits meat and soups made of meat but not of eggs, milks, and other condiments, even if taken from animals.

Canon 1251. 1. The law of fast prescribes that there be only one meal a day; but it does not forbid that a little bit [of food] be taken in the morning and the evening, observing, nevertheless, the approved custom of places concerning the quantity and the quality of the food.

2. It is not forbidden to mix meat and fish in the same meal; or to exchange the evening meal with lunch.

Canon 1252. 1. The law of abstinence only must be observed every Friday.

2. The law of abstinence together with fast must be observed every Ash Wed, every Friday and Saturday of Lent, each of the Ember Days, and the vigils of the Pentecost, the Assumption of the God-bearer into heaven, All Saints, and the Nativity of the Lord.

3. The law of fast only is to be observed on all the other days of Lent.

4. On Sundays or feasts of precept, the law of abstinence or of abstinence and fast or a fast only ceases, except during Lent, nor is the vigil anticipated; likewise it ceases on Holy Saturday afternoon.

Canon 1254. 1. The law of abstinence binds all those who have completed seven years of age.

2. All those are bound by the law of fast from the completion of the twenty-first year of age until the beginning of the sixtieth.

On Fasting, St Leo the Great says the following:

“The teaching of the Law, dearly beloved, imparts great authority to the precepts of the Gospel, seeing that certain things are transferred from the old ordinances to the new, and by the very devotions of the Church it is shown that the Lord Jesus Christ “came not to destroy but to fulfil the Law.” For since the cessation of the signs by which our Saviour’s coming was announced, and the abolition of the types in the presence of the Very Truth, those things which our religion instituted, whether for the regulation of customs or for the simple worship of God, continue with us in the same form in which they were at the beginning, and what was in harmony with both Testaments has been modified by no change. Among these is also the solemn fast of the tenth month, which is now to be kept by us according to yearly custom, because it is altogether just and godly to give thanks to the Divine bounty for the crops which the earth has produced for the use of men under the guiding hand of supreme Providence. And to show that we do this with ready mind, we must exercise not only the self-restraint of fasting, but also diligence in almsgiving, that from the ground of our heart also may spring the germ of righteousness and the fruit of love, and that we may deserve God’s mercy by showing mercy to His poor. For the supplication, which is supported by works of piety, is most efficacious in prevailing with God, since he who turns not his heart away from the poor soon turns himself to hear the Lord, as the Lord says: “be ye merciful as your Father also is merciful …. release and ye shall be released.” What is kinder than this justice? what more merciful than this retribution, where the judge’s sentence rests in the power of him that is to be judged? “Give,” he says, “and it shall be given to you.” How soon do the misgivings of distrust and the puttings off of avarice fall to the ground, when humanity may fearlessly spend what the Truth pledges Himself to repay”

I pray during this Lenten season that all of us may come to better live life in Christ, to sacrifice, to give alms, and to live to our duty as Catholics. Amen!



  1. I thought it was a "regular" meal, not a "large" meal.

  2. Angela, that's what I mean, I use large, regular interchangebly, large with respect to the other meal, :pTime to use my meat allowance 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: