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Ash Wednesday

22 December, 2009

We have three sets of homily notes to choose from.
Please click on the one required.

1. Michel de Verteuil Lectio Divina Year C

2. Kenneth Payne, What shall I say Year C

3. Thomas O’Loughlin, Liturgical Resources for Year C (Luke)


Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina
The Year of Luke

 We are sorry that Fr Michel de Verteuil’s book does not carry a commentary for Ash Wednesday


Kenneth Payne
What shall I say?


Theme: Lent – spring – is a time of spiritual growth through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Liturgical Text: ‘As we begin the discipline of Lent, make this sea­son holy by our self-denial.’ (Opening Prayer)

Homily Notes:
1. No age lives a more unbalanced lifestyle than our own. There are days when people have no fresh air, no exercise, no leisure, and they think no time for prayer.

2. Jesus instructs us that when we pray, fast or give alms we should do so privately.

3. Prayer: give more time to it – alone, with the family or a small group, going to Mass (weekdays), prayer before meals, walk instead of using the car and pray whilst walking, etc. Fasting: food, drink, eating less, giving up some favourite food or drink, TV, glossy magazines, etc.
Almsgiving: this can be linked with the money saved by some form of fasting and given to those in need – CAFOD, MoPSA,etc.
4. We are beginning an exciting time when the Lord challenges us to live more fully and be renewed in every way.

A. The sannyasi had reached the outskirts of the village and set­tled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him and said, ‘The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!’
‘What stone?’ asked the sannyasi.
‘Last night the Lord Shiva appeared to me in a dream,’ said the villager, ‘and told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I should find a sannyasi who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever.’
The sannyasi rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. ‘He probably meant this one,’ he said, as he handed the stone over to the villager. ‘1 found it on a forest path some days ago. You can certainly have it.’
The man looked at the stone in wonder. It was a diamond, probably the largest diamond in the whole world for it was as large as a man’s head.
He took the diamond and walked away. All night he tossed about in bed, unable to sleep. Next day at the crack of dawn he woke the sannyasi and said, ‘Give me the wealth that makes it possible for you to give this diamond away so easily.’


Thomas O’Loughlin,
Liturgical Resources for the Year of Luke

Homily notes

1. If the liturgy conveys the basic message of today (i.e. that we (1) as a community (2) begin today a season/ period in which we undertake (3) a journey and process of renewal that (4) makes us more fully the Body of Christ and (5) leads others to the moment of baptism, then a homily need only be a word or two in length while the ashes are being made by burning last year’s palms.

2. To see this season as a gift/ opportunity is very difficult for us as we are still burdened with half-remembered images of long ago when dancing, weddings, and eggs and lard were forbidden. Penitence which is just an attempt ‘to make up’ for sins by voluntary sufferings so as to avoid penalties post mortem has the effect of placing God’s justice and human retributive justice on the same plane – and thus denying the graciousness of God as seen in Christ’s reconciliation. So the task is to present Lent as the time for rebuilding bonds, becoming joined back to God and neighbour, for overcoming strife and working for peace and justice, and renewing ‘the bonds of peace’ (cf Eph 4:3) and love.

3. Renewing ourselves as the people chosen as God’s own, recovering the image of Christ soiled by sin, rebuilding the links with those we have injured and scandalised is not something that can happen in a moment: it requires time, patience, effort, and the commitment of resources. This is why we have a season and not just some quick ceremony: reconciliation is always a longer process than the impression given in our rites of reconciliation, whether individual or col­lective. The resources needed may be emotional – speaking again to someone who has offended us or crossing bound­aries that keep us apart in warring tribes; political- advocat­ing policies based on the fact that we believe Christ has com­missioned us to minister reconciliation to the world; spiritual-time needed to serve the community, to pray, or to grow in understanding of Christ’s way through taking part in a ‘Lenten Group’; and financial- using our material resources to help build the kingdom of justice, love, and peace.

4. We are involved in two solidarities: in that of sin that disfigures the world and the image of God in each of us; and in the community of grace through baptism. Lent is the time when we re-align ourselves and seek to oppose sin in every sphere with love.