Dust To Dust


Today is the beginning of the lenten Season, not only for Catholics but for all peoples of the Cross.

I know that there but for the grace of God, I would have remained but a clump of dust and mud, perhaps a handful of rocks and pebbles. And but for the love of God, I can look forward to living forever after my body has finally returned to dust. Now is the acceptable time. Now is the time to work for my salvation through the three acts of pity: fasting, prayers and almsgiving.

Fasting is denying myself. It is an emptying to make room and space for God to come into my life. I need to fast from the desires for more material wealth and possessions. I need to starve myself of my lustful desires for pleasures and the sweet and easy life. I must fast from the anger and the bitterness and the selfishness that roils my soul. I must realize that I am but dust despite my pretensions to greatness and substance.

After I have fasted and emptied myself of my pretensions, I can come as I truly am before God. In prayer, I acknowledge His presence and welcome Him in my emptiness. For indeed, but for His grace and love, I could have been but dust and unto dust I shall return. But if I let Him hold my hand, he will bring me to my real home –  in His bosom where I will live forever. In my emptiness, I make room for God to come in. With God in my life, I have everything I can possibly hope for.

With the richness God brings into my life, I find giving easier and more natural. When I have starved myself of the desires for material possessions, I can more easily share what I have with others. After, I have emptied myself of the lust for pleasure and the easy life, I am more open to serving and bringing happiness to others. When I am free of my anger and bitterness, I am readier to forgive others and ask others their forgiveness.

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
~ Psalm 51
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

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