At The Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, administered ashes during Mass on Ash Wednesday.
ALBERT C. PACCIORINI/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday
Receiving ashes as Lent begins is a public sign of our faith, explained Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, as the 40-day season before Easter, on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10.
Three things signify Lent, the bishop said, are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Prayer the bishop said, quoting theologian Thomas Merton, is simply raising your hearts and minds to God, in effect having a conversation with God.
Pray in your car, Bishop Barber suggested. "Turn off your radio. It's like being in your own monastic cell," Besides, he smiled, "If you're saying your prayers, you'll curse less at the traffic."
As for fasting, "Catholics are all about creating good," he said, and can enjoy pleasures, but Lent is a time to detach from pleasure, and focus on spiritual desires.
With almsgiving, he said, put into practice the counsel of St. Thomas Aquinas: the things we own are not ours alone, but given for the common good by God.
So "Take it down a notch," for example, and donate the difference between an expensive bottle of wine and a lesser bottle. Give something to everyone who asks you.
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