Homily – February 17, 2021

Ash Wednesday
Year B

This past Monday several other priests and I gathered for prayer at one of our parishes. The priest leading our holy hour and time of Adoration spoke about a few things that have aided his time spent before the Blessed Sacrament and his prayer during that time. One thing in particular struck me … he said, “I find that prayer, when focused on myself, is too heavy. But, prayer, when I place God at the center, becomes much lighter.” What does he mean? Simply this – we pray for all sorts of things in our lives … good health, financial stability … we pray in times of difficulty, when faced with hardships, with contentious relationships with friends, loved ones, children, spouses … much of the content of our prayer is heavy … “grant me this, give me that, heal me, solve this …” Not that these things and situations are not worthy of turning to God for but when the focus is on me, my needs, my wants, etc it is far too heavy. But when I pray through these things and focus more and more intently on Him, His mercy, His Goodness, His blessings, His will for me in those situations … I feel lighter … I feel free of them because it all is placed in the hands of God anyway. To do this is an act of surrender to God as well as a profound act of humility … which expands the heart’s capacity to love.

Therefore, for this Season of Lent I offer you this challenge: pray. Now, you might say – well I do pray … No I mean really pray … pray with humility, pray with openness, courage and discipline. Make it a point to spend time in the very presence of God before the Blessed Sacrament – whether He is behind the doors of the tabernacle or exposed on the altar for public adoration … pray. The Gospel tells us … when you pray go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your father in secret …” This does not mean, stay home, lay down on the couch … It means go to your inner most self … go to your heart and empty whatever is inside it … it means bring it all to Him and leave it behind …

I was reminded of something about the nature of prayer the other day and it helped me … And do we not all want to ease the burden of our lives? Do we not want life to be a little lighter and not so heavy? Then I challenge you, if you do nothing else … spend time here in this church and pray – really pray – with discipline, courage, humility … with an open heart … a heart that is focused on Christ and not ourselves … in order that we might learn what it means to love … to be free.

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