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Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

WHY DO CATHOLICS PUT A CROSS OF ASHES ON THEIR FOREHEAD?

Ash Wednesday

‘Excuse me, you’ve got some dirt on your head.’

Every year someone says that to me on Ash Wednesday. Maybe it has happened to you too. In the past it used to frustrate me, but in recent years I have come to see it as a great opportunity to evangelize, to share with someone about the most important person in my life: Jesus Christ.

So, what do you say when folks ask you about that smudge on your forehead?

Here are a few responses that I would not recommend:

The Ignorant Response

‘My mom made me go to church and get them. I have no idea what they mean.’

The Sarcastic Response

‘I’m protesting showers. Today, ashes; tomorrow I’m going to swim in raw sewage.’

The Ridiculous Response

‘I have a big zit that I’m trying to cover up. Is it working?’

The Practical (but Misguided) Response

‘Better dirty on the outside of my head than on the inside.’

And here are a few responses that I would recommend:

The Biblical Response

Over forty passages in the Bible associate ashes with mourning and grief. In Old Testament times people used ashes as a sign of repentance. They would sit in ashes, roll around in them, sprinkle them upon their heads, or even mingle them with their food and drink. They did this as an outward sign of their inward posture of repentance. Check out Daniel 9:3-6, for an example.

Ash Wednesday begins Lent, a time when we stop and assess how we’re doing in our walk with God. Lent helps us identify spiritual areas in which we can grow and sinful areas that we need to avoid. To repent, put simply, means to turn away from sin and turn toward God. We use ashes as an outward expression of our need to begin again.

A Traditional Response

Ashes are a sign of physical death, as in ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust.’ We began as dust (a joyless and lifeless existence), and our bodies will return to dust until we are raised up by Christ. By receiving ashes and keeping them on, we publicly proclaim our intent to die to our worldly desires and live even more in Christ’s image, which we focus on during the season of ‘rebirth’ that is Lent (a Latin term for ‘Spring’).

The Historical Response

For over twelve hundred years on the dies cinerum (day of ashes) faithful followers have approached the altar and received ashes upon their foreheads. These ashes are made from the burnt palm fronds that were blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water, usually fragranced with incense and blessed using four prayers that are thousands of years old.

The use of ashes for repentance and penance can be traced even further back and is practiced throughout the world. On Ash Wednesday ashes are applied to believers’ foreheads in the shape of the cross.

The Symbolic Response

God formed Adam out of the ‘dust’ of the earth, which we read about in Genesis 2:7. In addition, Jesus healed the blind man with clay (earth and spit) in John 9:6. We mark ourselves with ashes as a ‘new beginning’ at the onset of Lent, allowing the life of Jesus Christ to make us whole and new again.

The Most Basic Response

I’m a sinner. I don’t always love God as strongly as I could or as directly as I should. Ash Wednesday reminds me that it is only through God that I have life; He gave it to me.

Ash Wednesday also begins my preparation for Holy Week and the Passion and Resurrection of my Lord, Jesus, without Whom I have no life here and no chance at eternal life in Heaven. This is just a great opportunity for me to get better. Thanks for asking.

God forgives. He loves. And He gives this sinner a second chance. Put simply: my God kicks ash.

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Taken from: http://lifeteen.com/why-do-catholics-put-ashes-on-our-heads-on-ash-wednesday/

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Powerful Prayer at Your Fingertips: Daily at St. Andrew!

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Did you know the rosary is being said as a group prayer at St. Andrew every weekday morning before Mass at 7:30AM and on weekends, 7:00AM and 9:00AM?

The Rosary. What do you know about it? Have you adopted it as a spiritual weapon? If not, let’s briefly visit reasons why you should:

  • It’s the Prayer of the Gospel. The prayers themselves come from the Gospels; the Mysteries to contemplate are from the Gospels.
  • Saints Swear By It. The Saints are examples of how to live our lives the best we can as imperfect humans. Read quotes from Saints and Popes regarding the significance of the Rosary. One of the most poignant statements was made by Saint Louis de Montfort, “Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”
  • Move Beyond Petition-Only Prayers. Sometimes we get in the habit of reaching out in prayer only when we are asking for something. Sometimes we don’t know how to pray better. The Rosary can help you move into Contemplative Prayer, defined by the Catholic Church as “a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2715). It is about becoming close to God: “The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer… By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed.” – John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, On The Most Holy Rosary
  • You Can Pray it Anywhere. Don’t Have a Rosary with You? Nothing is a coincidence with God. You have 10 fingers. If you left your Rosary at home, you always have your fingers with you–or your toes. Pray it while you exercise or drive.

This is just a short commentary on the importance of the Rosary and using it as a daily spiritual weapon. There are many other places to read about the Rosary, its history, and the benefits of its prayers:

Holy Cross Family Ministries

Step-by-Step Guide to Praying the Rosary

Pray the Rosary with the World Online

Did you know the rosary is being said as a group prayer at St. Andrew every weekday morning before Mass at 7:30AM and on weekends, 7:00AM and 9:00AM? If you already pray the Rosary, please join us. If you are new to the Rosary, please join in this dynamic prayer that will open up your spiritual life in ways you’ve never anticipated.

Draw Near to God with These Apps

ImageHow do you spend time your time waiting or when you are bored? Do you play Candy Crush Saga? Temple Run? Chances are most of us these days are checking e-mails, Facebook profiles, or playing games on our phones to pass the time.

During this Lenten season, try filling this time with quiet moments with God. Prayer, reading, or learning more about your faith. Here are a few FREE applications for your phone that can help you grow in your relationship with the Lord.

Laudate – #1 Free Catholic App

The most popular and most comprehensive free Catholic App . Daily Mass Readings (with Saint of the Day and Reflections). Liturgy of Hours, New American Bible, interactive Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Latin Rosary, Stations of the Cross, searchable prayers and latin prayers with English translation. Douay-Rheims Bible for offline use. Multiple podcasts for daily meditations and Rosary. Catechism of Catholic Church with ability to bookmark and share. My Prayers lets you store your own prayers and move them between iPad and iPhone. Confession guides through sacrament of reconciliation. Vatican documents: 2nd Vatican Council, Code of Canon Law and more.

iPHONE  ANDROID

Relevant Radio

Relevant Radio brings you “Talk Radio for Catholic Life”. Relevant Radio creates a community of hope. Through this personal and intimate forum of communications, hope is rekindled, marriages are saved, souls draw closer to Christ and His Church, and the Truth sets many free. Be a part of this amazing journey! With the Relevant Radio App, you have easy access to our streaming! You can also submit a prayer request, make a donation and more!

iPHONE  ANDROID

Do you have a Kindle? If not, you can download the free Kindle app (iPhone, Android) and read these FREE books about your faith and God:

Exploring the Nicene CreedWe say it every Mass. Have you ever really thought about the words you say?

The Baltimore Catechism (1 of 4)This is a straightforward book series that addresses the Catholic Faith in a question and answer format. 

The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of LisieuxThe heart of a treasured Saint in her own words who lived just a century ago.

General Catholic Devotions: Just that. Devotions to help you find the words you need.

Books under $1:

The Confessions of St. Augustine

The Way of Perfection by St. Theresa of Avila

The Way of the Cross

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