The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do you realize that you have dirt on your forehead?

Unable to attend Mass this morning here in Nassau, I contacted St. Helen's Parish (a familiar Parish that I frequent while in Fort Lauderdale) and made it right in time for the 12:05pm Ash Wednesday service. As I drove up to the Parish there were several cars ahead of me pulling into the parking lot. With quite a number of parking spaces filled I was more surprised when I walked inside and saw how packed the Church was; everyone wanted to get dirty today.

Getting dirty is not the point in us getting ashes placed on our forehead, as someone back at the office pointed out to me when I returned. I'm sure he knew what was on my forehead but it made for a good laugh as it prompted him to indicate to me that he needed to get to Church. On my way back to the office I got many gazes as people must have wondered if I realized that dirt was on my forehead or they understood and respected my boldness. I did get a positive feedback from a lady at a store who said to me that she needs to take the time to get to Church today.

Unfortunately I had to wipe off my ashes earlier than hoped due in part because I began to sweat that did not work well with the ashes. My head began to resemble a lady's mascara "running" as they have tears coming down. From past experiences I've always kept my ashes on my forehead until the end of the day, so it was no surprise when I got home and saw that my wife still had them on her forehead.

As a Catholic Christian we should be overwhelmed with excitement as the Lenten season begins today. It should not be a time of sadness, disappointment and displeasure because it requires us to give up something, something we know deep within that keeps us apart from God. In addition to fasting (giving up something) we should also consider more prayer time and a cheerful spirit to give more to those less fortunate. These three acts of our Lenten journey will enrich our lives thereby bringing us closer to Christ who desires us completely.

As we read recently in the Gospel, God knows the hearts of every man. There is nothing we can hide from him. We can not pretend to fast, or pretend to have a prayerful life, or even pretend to give to others just because we want others to see us doing these things. In all we must do with a cheerful heart and that is why we hear Jesus saying that we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, or pray so that others can hear us praying, nor should fast while looking sad and depressed because we want others to know that we are fasting. We should be pleasing God and not man, it is God who sees everything and will reward us.

Rather than giving up those chocolates or sweet cakes that you like so much, we should think about the thing(s) that may cause us to distant ourselves from God. As difficult as it may seem and a struggle to give up, it is a way of truly recognizing our weakness and our need for God's grace and mercy. The Lenten season is about renewal and rejuvenation.

Further, there are always opportunities where you are able to share your faith journey with others, this can be a great avenue to consider as a Lenten practice this Lenten season. Better yet, there are many fallen away Catholics who have left the Christian community completely, therefore it should be our duty to reach out to them. When you're with your friends this season, instead of giving them a shot of rum, why not give them a shot of the Spirit. Allow the Spirit to work through you to witness to them, you would be surprise how positive their reaction would be.

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