“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Here we go. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Like every other year, we hear the same challenge to fast, pray and give alms. Does this mean anything to us? We hear the invitation, but do we listen to it? Does it mean anything to us? Or do we just do the same thing each year because we are comfortable giving up sweets, TV, social media.
Listen! Listen! Fast, remove from our lives those things, thoughts, ideas that have gotten in the way of our full growth in love. Pray, respond wholeheartedly to a God who is reaching out to us, calling to us. Give alms, notice that all is gift to be shared, to be used by those most in need, those who live with desire. Listen! Fast, pray, give alms for God’s greater glory, not God’s glory only. As we hear these invitations and challenges again this year, now…be intentional and listen! God is calling us for all. May this Ash Wednesday, this Lent be like no other.
—Kevin Schneider, S.J., is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Prep and serves as the assistant chaplain for many athletic teams.
When I go now to my inner room, God my Father, Creator of my inmost self, I go with ashes on my forehead and in my soul for what I have done and for the little love I return to You.
Is it repentance enough that I accept as mine the burden laid on all of us by all of us?
May I embrace as my own and offer to you the sufferings of the world that invade my day—the child in terror, the man without work, the woman wrapped in oppression and disdain?
Let me feel the grief that weighed like lead on Jesus’ heart and know his unyielding love for me. Amen.
—Kevin Schneider, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!