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Bishop Burbidge's Ash Wednesday Homily

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Ash Wednesday
Sacred Heart Cathedral
February 25, 2009

Last night and throughout the past few weeks, we have heard a great deal about the “stimulus package.” While it is somewhat extensive, complicated and leaves room for discussion, there is universal agreement regarding its purposes: to energize us; to help us to get our priorities in order; to return to the basics; and to get back on track, especially in this time of economic turmoil.

On this sacred day, we humbly acknowledge that we are sinners in need of God’s infinite mercy. We acknowledge that, at times, we have lost a sense of priorities in life and have made choices that have led us on the wrong course. Lent is a special invitation to rediscover God’s presence in our lives. It is a presence that enables us to recharge, to reconnect and to rediscover life in His grace. The process is basic and is revealed in today’s Reading from the Book of the Prophet Joel: “Return to the Lord your God with all your heart.”

The Gospel challenges us to return to the Lord our God in prayer: allowing more time each day to be still in the Lord’s presence so that we may hear His gentle and loving voice speaking the message He wishes us to receive. We are called to return to the Lord our God in fasting: leaving behind all those unnecessary things that distract and consume us so that we may be ever convinced of our dependency on God. We are invited to return to the Lord our God in almsgiving: not only the giving of material resources but in the giving of ourselves to those who need us to acknowledge, to listen, to understand and to forgive them.

No wonder the Gospel tells us not to be “gloomy.” This is a joyful season and a grace-filled moment for us to rediscover God’s presence in our lives; a presence that enables us to recharge, to reconnect and to reorganize our lives in His grace. At this Eucharist, we call upon that grace so that throughout the Season of Lent and always we may “return to the Lord our God with all our heart.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is providing online information and resource material for the Lenten Season. It offers prayerful material for Catholics and information for persons interested in the Catholic faith.

Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge blessing ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Below: Parishioners attending 12:00 p.m. Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, one of five Masses celebrated at the Church on Ash Wednesday.