Wednesday, February 14, 2018

We start with the Sign of the Cross (Ash Wednesday homily)

As I mentioned on Sunday, all my Sunday homilies 
will try to shed light on the Mass. 
This is especially appropriate because the Mass is, simply put, 
the most important thing we do as Catholics. 
The Mass is the most important thing that will happen today, 
anywhere in the world. 

Mass and Lent have a lot in common. 
Lent is a journey to Good Friday, 
when we remember that Jesus died for us, and to Easter, 
when we remember that he rose from the dead, 
and to the Ascension, when he returned to his throne. 

Holy Mass is all these things too; except that in the Mass, 
what we “remember” is truly and really present to us.

Since Ash Wednesday is when we start Lent, 
Let’s start our deeper look at the Holy Mass;
And let’s start with the simple prayer that began Mass: 
the Sign of the Cross.

Let’s do it right now: “In the name of…Amen.” Notice what we just did.

We marked ourselves with the Cross. 
When we were baptized, the priest makes the sign of the cross on us, 
claiming us for Christ for the first time. 
To be marked by the Cross is to be a Christian. 
The sign of the Cross summarizes our Faith: 
Jesus came, Jesus died, Jesus rose; and he is our only hope!

Notice we surround ourselves with the Holy Trinity. 
This is what Jesus died to give us: life in God. 
His Cross puts us “in” the midst of the Trinity.

Also notice that the Cross is what Lent is about. 
That’s why we fast today, and make sacrifices.
That’s why we have the Way of the Cross on Thursdays. 

In a word, the Mass IS the Cross. If you get nothing else, get that: 
when we are at Mass, we are at the Cross. 
No Cross, no Mass. No Cross, no hope. 
No Cross, no point to any of this.

For all the emotion we might feel about the Cross,
there is no escaping the hard reality of the Cross.
It is about pain. It is about cost. It is about work. 

And so is Lent. I don’t actually “enjoy” Lent. 
I get up earlier, I work harder, and I give up things I like. 
No, I don’t enjoy Lent, but I need it. I am glad for it.

The Mass is exactly the same way. Sometimes we complain: 
Mass is boring. It takes too long. I don’t understand parts. 
It is an interruption of my day. Why can’t it be easier?

Why should it be easy? Compared to the reality of the Cross,
Lent doesn’t sound so bad, and Mass isn’t really all that hard. 

The journey is challenging. Christ helps us, and we help each other. 
Our destination is Heaven. We start today.

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