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Lent is a time that the Universal Church reflects on Christ's Passion and Death in an intensely focused way. After Jesus was nailed to the cross, He spoke 7 short expressions. These statements are now commonly referred to as the "The Seven Last Words". These words are recounted in Sacred Scripture and are found throughout the four Gospels. Few Christians can recall all seven of Our Lord's last words on the Cross. As you contemplate His Passion and Death this season, remember that these words, although spoken nearly 2,000 years ago at Calvary, were meant for every generation. Nothing our Lord said or did was without meaning. Prepare your hearts for Lent by reflecting on the Seven Last Words of Christ and consider incorporating this reflection into your Lenten practices.
Many of us may be tempted to begin our examination of conscience when we get in line at the confessional. There is nothing wrong with this practice (especially if the line looks like this), but you don’t want to get caught in the middle of your examination when it is your turn to go in. Bratislava confession line1 If you don't regularly examine your conscience it may take awhile before you are fully prepared. Next time you go to confession, consider preparing before you go. For one should not simply just go to confession, but rather make the best confession possible. One of the essential pieces in the Rite of Penance is the examination of conscience. We take an internal self-examination of our spiritual life and bring to light those sins that keep us from a more intimate relationship with Christ. Here, we recall our sins and faults committed since our last confession.
During the Ash Wednesday service our foreheads are adorned with ashes followed by the words: "For you are dust, And to dust you shall return." (Gen. 3:19) This physical sign commemorates the beginning of our Lenten season of sacrifice and spiritual growth. If you are like me, it is not uncommon for your Ash Wednesday cross to turn into a smudge. When going out in public, you may receive a question or comment about your forehead being "dirty". It is easy to be vague and shy away from comments about this mark of sacrifice. But this year challenge yourself to be prepared to fully answer their questions. So, which method will you use to explain your ashes?