Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday 2012

I’d like to do two things: give you a challenge for Lent and then preach about vice and virtue.

This Lent, I challenge you to pray 40 days of forgiveness. The Our Father says: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” All of us here desires to receive and abide in the forgiveness of God, that means we must forgive those who have harmed us. I have printed out a beautiful and thorough prayer of forgiveness written by a Catholic priest. I challenge everyone here to pray it everyday for the whole of Lent. I am confident that if you even half-heartedly take up this suggestion you will experience great emotional healing and spiritual growth because you will be imitating Jesus, who forgave those who crucified him.

Secondly, throughout the Sunday homilies of Lent, we’ll talk about vice and virtue. So a bit of an introduction to them today would be good, especially in this season of Lent. Vice is that habit in your soul that tends towards sin. Sin typically isn’t a matter of ignorance but of weakness of will, we didn’t choose the thing we know was right. This is vice. Virtue is that habit in your soul that tends towards goodness. What we really want in life is to be virtuous, to be habitually and truly good, not just a goody two-shoes who acts good but someone truly good. We build up vice or virtue by our repeated actions.

The main vice is pride. Briefly, pride is preference of self over anything else. Pride is at the root of all sins. The greatest pride is to prefer ourselves over God. That is the pride of Satan, he and other fallen angels prefer themselves over God. Notice how pride blocks their intelligence, they know God is the source of everything they have but yet they attempt to set themselves over and above God.

The main virtue is love, not just any love but the loved called caritas in Latin or agapé in Greek. This love prefers God over anything else. This love forgets about the self and seeks the good of the other. We hear Jesus speak of this love: “No greater love is there than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” We see living examples of this love in Holy Mother Church’s martyrs. They preferred love of God over and above even their own life!

May our Lenten observance cause a decrease in vice and an increase in virtue, especially in love of God.

Cross Posted at Pius XII Newman.

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