WHY ASH MONDAY? In the Maronite Church the Season of Great Lent begins on the Miracle of Cana Sunday. The Blessing and distribution of the Ashes on Ash Wednesday is originally a Latin (Western) Rite celebration. The Maronites adopt-ed this celebration from the Western Church and placed it on the Monday after Cana Sunday which is why we have Ash Monday.
MEANING OF THE ASHES: To put on the ashes is to say publicly and to yourself that you are in a reflective and repentant mode, that you are grieving your sins, and being changed, transformed (like the water to the best wine) from within, through God’s Grace in Jesus.
UNDERSTANDING THE SPIRIT OF LENT: Begin with the Gospel for Ash Monday, and including all of Matthew 6: 1-18. Nothing offers better guidance than the words Jesus spoke:
“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you. (Mt 6:2) Pray to your Father, who sees in secret and will reward you. (Mt 6:6) And whenever you fast, do not look dis-mal like the hypocrites.” (Mt 6:16)
WE GIVE... PRAY... & FAST: to be free and open to a deep experience of being transformed by God in Jesus in this Season of Great Lent.
As a Community in Lent, we are to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Monday & Good Friday and abstain from meat on all Fridays. This is binding on those 18 to 60 years of age, except pregnant women and the sick.
As Individuals/personally, in Lent we are also called to choose other deeds of sacrifice, prayer and fasting to allow us to be open and free to experience God’s wonderful healing and forgiving Grace in Jesus in our lives and to wit-ness to this Grace to with others, especially the poor, as Pope Francis has re-minded us in His Lenten message He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich (cf. 2 Cor 8:9)(http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/lent/documents/papa-francesco_20131226_messaggio-quaresima2014_en.html)
Fasting is when you don’t eat food or drink from 12 Midnight till 12 Noon (except for water & medicine).
Abstinence is when we do not eat meat or when we give up other foods or other activities, eg: T.V and internet, chocolate, soft drinks, alcohol...
Almsgiving/Charity is when we give extra time to family and relationships and donations to help the poor eg Caritas’ Project Compassion and other charities.
Additional Spiritual Practices: daily Mass, time for Confession, daily Rosary, coming to Stations and Ziyeh of the Cross on Fridays, Bible discussions, Spiritual reading and Spiritual walks or visits to Church
Today and tomorrow, hear Mary’s command to “do whatever He tells you” for this Lent. Take time in prayer and ask Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit to guide you on what to give up and take up to experience His Grace to transform the ordinary (water) into the extraordinary (wine) of God’s joy in your life.