Ash Wednesday 2013

VENERABLE Brethren and Well-Beloved Sons and Daughters, greetings and Apostolic Blessings on this Ash Wednesday, in the year of our Lord 2013. It is with extreme sadness that we learned two days ago of the resignation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, to be effective on the twenty-eighth of this month. We remember His Holiness's kindness to us, and most of all we remember his strength of character and leadership even in the face of great opposition and troubled times. We wish the Holy Father peace and happiness in his retirement.

  As we begin again the Lenten journey we are reminded that the penitential acts we perform are for preparation for the joys that are to come at the Paschal Feast. The Lenten penance must be inward rather than outward, and all outwardly visible acts and signs must represent something internal. Lent, as we are fond of saying, is a time not of sorrow but of great joy. It is during this time that we work to remove our dependence on the world and strive to make ourselves wholly dependent upon Christ. Through this annual process of renewal, we may hope to make ourselves live as better Chris-tians throughout the remainder of the year, placing God first in all things, and making God the center of all that we do.

  As Christians we are obligated to live a Christ-centered life. There can be no wall between our spiritual life and any other aspect of our lives if we are to call ourselves truly Christian. This is equally true of government and public life. Separation of Church and State has never meant that people can, should, or must abandon their faith at the door of the statehouse or the voting booth. The Church, as the ultimate moral authority, has both a right and a duty to speak out against injustice in the public sphere and to work for the good and for the rights of all mankind. Chief among these sacred spiritual du-ties is the protection of the sanctity of life. All other rights necessarily assume life, and therefore all other rights are completely depend-ent upon the right to life. We still find our society locked in a battle of good versus evil; of a culture of life versus a culture of death; of a society that respects life and the dignity of the human person, and a society that does not. What is the most fundamental of all rights has become the most divisive of all issues. Thankfully we may report some progress has been made in the realm of promoting the sanctity of life and religious freedom. Must work is still left to be done.

  Within the issue of the sanctity of life is the issue of totalitarian regimes. Such regimes, which can appear out of once-free societies, threaten freedom and the dignity of the human person. History has shown over and over that totalitarian states treat the people commit-ted to their care not with respect and dignity, but rather as chattel property to serve the will and the needs of the state. Rather than people being seen as creatures of God, people become seen as crea-tures of the state, existing under its largesse and for its purposes alone.

  The United States of America remains under threat by many in its own government who seek to limit religious and other freedom, and who act constantly against the sanctity of life. The despotic history of other countries is certainly a possibility in America. Christ, however, is the sole source of freedom for all mankind. Only through Christ can man be truly free. It is Christ who liberates the oppressed and the downtrodden. It is Christ who raises up even while totalitarian states seek to bring down the human spirit. This Lenten season let us offer prayers and fasting, therefore, that those who are oppressed around the world may be freed, and those who are currently blessed with freedom may not suffer oppression.

  Let us further look to the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague for comfort that the oppressors of the world shall not gain the victory in the end. The Holy Infant was thrown in a pile of rubble after the Carmelite monastery was sacked by those who did not respect the Faith. It was seven unfortunate years before Father Cyril heard the blessed voice of the Infant calling to him. The promise was given "If you restore My hands unto Me, I will give you peace. The more you honor Me, the more I will help you." The secularists of today's society have also effectively thrown our Lord upon a trash heap. Let us, then, re-store the hands to the Infant in our own way through our Lenten prayer and fasting and through our good works.

  Also, as we begin the Lenten season, we particularly congratulate the Anglican Ordinariate of the Roman Communion on their continued success, which is rapidly gaining momentum. Our prayers are with them as they proceed in their mission of conversion for Angli-cans earnestly seeking to be Catholic. May God continue to shine His grace upon them and bestow His many blessings.

  Lastly, we remind you all of the special mandate of this Particular Church, viz., the mandate of mission, service, and charity. It is a special mandate indeed, and it necessarily renders us distinct in operation from those branches of the Church engaged primarily with parochial work. We are not distinct, however, in overall purpose, for we all seek to spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and serve His Holy Church, the Holy Bride of Christ. We will always remain united in spiritual work and prayer.

  Benedicat vos, omnipotens Deus. Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus. R. Amen.



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