Christians: Strong & Courageous


exaltation of the cross

Yesterday, we were marked with the ashes and heard the words, repent or turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.  This wasn’t to imply we didn’t believe the Gospel before we received the ashes, it was simply to affirm our commitment, and I can’t imagine there are any among us who feel that commitment is so solid and perfect that we couldn’t do any better.  I can’t imagine that any of us truly believe that we live and express our Christian faith so perfectly well, unaffected by sin.  We were marked and then we began a season which places a little more emphasis on repentance, reforming our lives and sacrifice to prepare our hearts and minds for the best of all things – heaven!  Life with God in Paradise for ever!  But we will also have to pick up our crosses, deny certain things that get in the way of following Jesus and turn our lives over to the One who took on the greatest of all Crosses at Calvary.  He does not tell us life is going to be easy or carefree.  He does not tell us that life will only be joys and triumphs, because we know already it isn’t.  He encourages all of us to embrace what cross(es) we’re given, know He is in most in solidarity with us when we’re dealing with them.  Jesus encourages us to be strong and courageous.  As I offered the words of Archbishop Sheen yesterday the “Cross without Christ is the Sacrifice without love”.  I visited the young men at Northmount School for Boys in North Toronto yesterday and asked them to wear their ashes all day.  These young men proudly wore their uniforms, a sign that it means something to them (and their parents who work hard for them to go there) to be students at that school.  I encouraged them to wear their ashes proudly too when they went home, when they were with their friends, or playing hockey or going to the store with their parents, because to be Catholic Christians means something too and we are especially aware of that as we begin Lent.  Extrinsically, we wear our ashes and then intrinsically (sometimes extrinisically too) we carry our crosses; we make sacrifices.  Yesterday we fasted and abstained, and then we entered into today; a Lenten day with the spirit of sacrifice and committed to whatever we offer as a sacrifice.  As I encouraged the boys yesterday, it’s important that we all take the time to reflect on why we sacrifice what we do, even if it’s something small – because we must do it for love.  Sacrifice with love, it’s what configures us all as Christians to the Cross of Jesus Christ.  May God bless you.

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