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Copyright © 2013, B.F.S. All rights reserved. Newsletter - February, 2013 [Plain text version]

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* Greetings

* MCS News & Notes

* The Month of February: Dedicated to the Holy Family

* Lenten Resources

* "The School of Jesus Crucified: The School in Which All the Saints of God Obtained Their Honors"

* Liturgical Feasts in February

* 'Catholic Trivia'

* Defending the Faith: "Apologetics Brief" - Do You Criticize the Catholic Church For Her Use of Ashes on Ash Wednesday?

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Dear Friend,

"May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Heb. 13:20-21)

Greetings to you as we approach the penitential season of Lent. This year, Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, occurs on February 13th. With God's grace, we hope you will have a very profitable Lent that atones for past sins, propels you forward spiritually, and well prepares you for Easter. Even if you take but one small step daily, you will have gone far by the time Easter arrives. To that end, we hope you will find the resources referenced below to be helpful.

We thank you for your support of our site & newsletter and wish you a blessed, holy Lent.

God bless you,

Your Friends at

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"[T]he observance of Lent is an essential mark of Catholicity" (Dom Gueranger)

"It is also true that we should practice mortification in many things to make reparation for our sins. There is no doubt that the person who lives without mortifying himself is someone who will never succeed in saving his soul." (St. John Vianney)

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MCS News & Notes

* We are considering a future expansion of the Catholic Fun & Activities section (e.g. new crosswords, word searches, coloring pages, mazes). If you have any requests or other suggestions, please contact us at using the subscriber feedback form at . Thank you in advance for your comments & suggestions.

* Site Redesign Update: As mentioned previously, we hope to have a sample page with our proposed new site design available for preview within the next few months. We would very much like your opinion on the new layout. If you'd like an advance preview of the proposed new design, please reply to this newsletter with the words "site preview" in the subject line and we'll send you a link to the new page once it's ready.

* Indentation Issues: We are aware of some indentation issues on our site when viewed with recent versions of the Firefox browser. We have addressed this issue on a very limited basis and plan to more fully handle this issue as part of our site redesign efforts. In the meantime, if a page(s) is particularly problematic, please let us know and we will try to address that page(s) as soon as possible.

* Indulgences Reminder: For information on plenary indulgences available in Lent, please visit

* Please invite your friends & family to subscribe to our newsletter at . Thank you!

* We love to hear from you! Please submit comments at

- - - - - App News...

* If you don't already own iStations, why not purchase it now in preparation for Lent? iStations is a handy devotional app for the iPad® / iPhone® / iPod touch® or Android which is perfect for those times when you can't make it to your parish for the Stations of the Cross. It features...

·  Convenient audio option with optional auto-advance

·  Two traditional methods of praying the Stations of the Cross

·  Beautiful images accompany each station

·  Easy navigation

·  Selected prayers in English & Latin

·  In app help

The following quotes are from actual user reviews (both platforms)...

"Nice app!"

"This is a lovely app"

"excellent app!"


"pictures and audio are great!"

"Very good for meditation and reflection."

"Glad to have found this!"

"It is definitely worth the purchase price."

"Best Station App"

"This is simply beautiful"

"I love it"

"Great Job"

"Penetrating and profound."

"Beautifully sublime"

"Simply wonderful."

"The best I have seen so far. great to take along for those with unusual schedules. Very happy to have found it."

"This is awesome... I love the audio, and the quality of this prayer app. Well done."

"This is a great App. The illustrations of the stations are some of the most beautiful Christian art to be found. Being able to listen on audio makes for a very peaceful experience. Highly recomended."

"There are a few other versions of the stations in the app store, some I have installed, but this is the best in my opinion."

For more information & screen shots, please visit [For Android version, please visit: ]

Download it today at . [For Android version, please download at or ]

Your purchase helps support - Thank you for your support!

* Reviews: If you've purchased any of our apps, we encourage you to please leave a review at your place of purchase. They really help us out! To view selected reviews, please visit

* For more information concerning currently available apps, please visit (shortcut: )

Note: Any prices included herein are in U.S. dollars, excluding any applicable tax.

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* Please see our Notices page at for dates of anticipated service delays through May 2013

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* Please visit our Notices page for timely news and other important information regarding -

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The Month of February: Dedicated to the Holy Family

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"And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." (Mt. 1:16)

"When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.' He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, 'He shall be called a Nazorean.'" (Mt. 2:19-23)

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Related Resources...

* Holy Family Topic Page -

* References to the Holy Family in Scripture -

* Family / Families (Reflections) -

* Holy Family Coloring Pages -

* Holy Family (Mazes) -

* Jesus (Topic Page) -

* Blessed Virgin Mary (Topic Page) -

* St. Joseph (Topic Page) -

Looking For Something Else? Try Our Various Indexes For 15,000+ Entries -

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"We cannot separate Mary and Joseph, were it only for their having such close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation - Mary as being the Mother of the Son of God; and Joseph, as being guardian of the Virgin's spotless honor, and Foster-Father of the divine Babe." (Gueranger)

"Joseph heard the Son of God call him 'father'. He had charge of, he labored for the maintenance of the Son of the Eternal Father. He was the head of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and Jesus recognized his authority. The plan of the Mystery of the Incarnation required that these relations should exist between the Creator and the Creature. As the Son of God, now that he is seated at the right hand of the Eternal Father, has kept our human nature indissolubly united with his divine Person; so likewise has he retained the feelings he had, when here on earth, for Mary and Joseph." (Gueranger)

"This bond of charity was the core of the Holy Family's life, first in the poverty of Bethlehem, then in their exile in Egypt, and later in the house of Nazareth. The Church deeply venerates this Family, and proposes it as the model of all families." (Pope John Paul II)

"Lord Jesus Christ, who, being made subject to Mary and Joseph, didst consecrate domestic life by Thine ineffable virtues; grant that we, with the assistance of both, may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family and may attain to its everlasting fellowship. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen." (Roman Missal)

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Lenten Resources

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"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.'" (Mt. 16:24)

"Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that the sacrifice of Lenten observance which we offer to Thee may both make our souls more acceptable to Thee and give us the strength to restrain ourselves more readily. Through our Lord." (Secret)

"The observance of Lent is the very badge of Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God's glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, of private woe." (Pope Benedict XIV, 1741 A.D.)

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* Lent (Topic Page) -

* Ash Wednesday (Topic Page) -

* Fasting (Topic Page) -

* Lenten Prayers (Topic Page) -

* Way of the Cross (Topic Page) -

* Sin (Topic Page) -

* Penance (Topic Page) -

* Spiritual Growth (Topic Page) -

* Good Friday (Topic Page) -

* Make Your Own Lent Calendar -

* Traditional Practices For Lent / Easter (Incl. Fasting / Abstinence / Partial Abstinence) -

* Lent / Easter Activities (See 'Holiday Activities') -

* Lent / Easter Prayers -

* Stations of the Cross -

* Jesus' Last Words From the Cross -

* Trials & Sorrows of Jesus -

* Fulfilled Prophecies in Scripture (Abandonment & Betrayal of Jesus, Jesus' Passion, Death, & Resurrection) -

* The Passion / Cross (Reflections) -

* Rome's Lenten Station Churches -

* Prayers & Devotions -

* Indulgences -

* Works of Mercy -

* Sin & Vice: Q & A -

* Stabat Mater (Sequence) -

* Collages (Incl. Holy Land, Church of the Holy Sepulchre) -

* Coloring Pages (Incl. Last Supper, Jesus Washing Apostle's Feet) -

Looking For Something Else? Try Our Various Indexes For 15,000+ Entries -

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"You cannot better appreciate your worth than by looking into the mirror of the Cross of Christ; there you will learn how you are to deflate your pride, how you must mortify the desires of the flesh, how you are to pray to your Father for those who persecute you, and to commend your spirit into God's hands." (St. Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church)

"Take the holy crucifix in your hands, kiss its wounds with great love, and ask Him to preach you a sermon. Listen to what the thorns, the nails, and that Divine Blood say to you. Oh! What a sermon." (St. Paul of the Cross)

"And yet there is truly nothing that more eloquently proclaims His supreme love and admirable charity towards us, than the inexplicable mystery of the Passion of Jesus Christ, whence springs that never-failing fountain to wash away the defilements of sin." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"If the good God sends us crosses, we resist, we complain, we murmur; we are so averse to whatever contradicts us, that we want to be always in a box of cotton: but we ought to be put into a box of thorns. It is by the Cross that we go to Heaven." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"Oh, how bitterly shall we regret at the hour of death the time we have given to pleasures, to useless conversations, to repose, instead of having employed it in mortification, in prayer, in good works, in thinking of our poor misery, in weeping over our poor sins; then we shall see that we have done nothing for Heaven. Oh, my children, how sad it is! Three-quarters of those who are Christians labor for nothing but to satisfy this body, which will soon be buried and corrupted, while they do not give a thought to their poor soul, which must be happy or miserable for all eternity. They have neither sense nor reason: it makes one tremble." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"Now the whole essence of a Christian life is to reject the corruption of the world and to oppose constantly any indulgence in it; this is taught in the words and deeds, the laws and institutions, the life and death of Jesus Christ, 'the author and finisher of faith.' Hence, however strongly We are deterred by the evil disposition of nature and character, it is our duty to run to the 'fight proposed to Us,' fortified and armed with the same desire and the same arms as He who, 'having joy set before him, endured the cross.' Wherefore let men understand this specially, that it is most contrary to Christian duty to follow, in worldly fashion, pleasures of every kind, to be afraid of the hardships attending a virtuous life, and to deny nothing to self that soothes and delights the senses. 'They that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences' - so that it follows that they who are not accustomed to suffering, and who hold not ease and pleasure in contempt belong not to Christ." (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888 A.D.)

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Another Useful Lenten Resource

iStations - A handy devotional app for the iPad® / iPhone® / iPod touch® or Android which is perfect for those times when you can't make it to your parish for the Stations of the Cross. It features...

* Convenient audio option with optional auto-advance

* Two traditional methods of praying the Stations of the Cross

* Beautiful images accompany each station

* Easy navigation

* Selected prayers in English & Latin

* In app help

The following quotes are from actual user reviews (both platforms)...

"Nice app!"

"This is a lovely app"

"excellent app!"


"pictures and audio are great!"

"Very good for meditation and reflection."

"Glad to have found this!"

"It is definitely worth the purchase price."

"Best Station App"

"This is simply beautiful"

"I love it"

"Great Job"

"Penetrating and profound."

"Beautifully sublime"

"Simply wonderful."

"The best I have seen so far. great to take along for those with unusual schedules. Very happy to have found it."

"This is awesome... I love the audio, and the quality of this prayer app. Well done."

"This is a great App. The illustrations of the stations are some of the most beautiful Christian art to be found. Being able to listen on audio makes for a very peaceful experience. Highly recomended."

"There are a few other versions of the stations in the app store, some I have installed, but this is the best in my opinion."

For more information & screen shots, please visit [For Android version, please visit: ]

Download it today at . [For Android version, please download at or ]

Your purchase helps support - Thank you for your support!

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"The School of Jesus Crucified: The School in Which All the Saints of God Obtained Their Honors"

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The following is taken from a 19th century publication by Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus titled "The School of Jesus Crucified". The publication was issued with the approval of the Passionist Monastery. [Please note: We have made various changes to the original text (e.g. capitalization, punctuation, and spelling changes)]  

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Regular Reflection on Jesus Crucified

"Son, for thy sake I have sacrificed my life on a cross, amidst the most fearful sufferings and tortures; can I then be requiring too much when I ask thee sometimes to remember all I have done for thee; sometimes to call to mind my Passion? Can a father ask less of thee, O son -- a father who for love of thee has suffered and died, was most cruelly transfixed with nails, and breathed his last, plunged in a sea of sorrows? I ask thee not for thy blood, although I shed every drop of mine for the love of thee. I ask thee not to endure the scourge, to which also I submitted for thy sake. I ask thee not for the sacrifice of thy life, although I laid down my own with infinite love, for the salvation of thy soul. No, my son. I ask thee but to pause for a moment, to contemplate me suffering, covered with wounds, and dying on the Cross; to contemplate me in the state to which I am reduced by my ardent desire for thy salvation. I ask of thee a thought, a feeling of love, a sigh, a tear of compassion at the sight of my countless sufferings. Can thy heart, O my son! be so hardened and unfeeling as to refuse thy tender father, thy loving Redeemer, this slight tribute of gratitude -- the occasional recollection of my Passion? Canst thou so liberally bestow thy thoughts and affections upon the world, upon creatures, and upon thy own interests, and yet refuse me even a sigh, or a feeling of love and sympathy? Ah, son! I beseech thee to satisfy my desires, and not to refuse what I ask of thee. Remember all my sufferings, my wounds, and my death, compassionate and love me. At least, let thy first thoughts each day be devoted to the remembrance of some one of my bitter sufferings; let at least one sigh be given to thy Crucified Savior as the hours speed on their course; and let the last emotion of thy heart, after all the cares of the day are over, be a feeling of compassion for thy Redeemer expiring on a Cross."

"Ah, my son! forget not how much thy salvation has cost me; forget not at how dear a rate I have ransomed thy soul, how much blood I have shed, and how many sufferings I have endured in order to atone for thy sins! If thy mind is continually occupied with such thoughts, and if thou dost often meditate upon my Passion, never, never more wilt thou so barbarously crucify me again by willful sins."

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"He should also be taught not to suffer a day to pass without devoting a portion of it to meditation on some mystery of the Passion of our Lord, and to exciting and inflaming himself to the imitation and most ardent love of his Redeemer." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

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For more reflections, please visit

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Liturgical Feasts in February

The following is a listing of all liturgical feast dates for February as they appear at

Note: (T) = Traditional, (N) = New (Novus Ordo)

Reminder: Feasts may be superseded / transferred / etc.

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February 1 - St. Brigid (T)

February 1 - St. Ignatius of Antioch (T)

February 2 - Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (T)

February 2 - The Presentation of the Lord (N)

February 3 - St. Blase of Sebaste (T)

February 3 - St. Ansgar (N)

February 3 - St. Blase of Sebaste (N)

February 4 - St. Andrew Corsini (T)

February 5 - St. Agatha of Sicily (T)

February 5 - St. Philip of Jesus (T)

February 5 - St. Agatha of Sicily (N)

February 6 - St. Dorothy (T)

February 6 - St. Titus of Crete (T)

February 6 - St. Paul Miki & companions (N)

February 7 - St. Romuald (T)

February 8 - St. John of Matha (T)

February 8 - St. Jerome Emiliani (N)

February 8 - St. Josephine Bakhita (N)

February 9 - St. Apollonia (T)

February 9 - St. Cyril of Alexandria (T)

February 10 - St. Scholastica (T)

February 10 - St. Scholastica (N)

February 11 - Our Lady of Lourdes (T)

February 11 - Our Lady of Lourdes (N)

February 12 - The Seven Founders of the Servite Order (T)

February 14 - St. Valentine (T)

February 14 - Sts. Cyril & Methodius (N)

February 15 - Sts. Faustinus & Jovita (T)

February 17 - Seven Founders of the Order of Servites (N)

February 18 - St. Mary Bernard (Bernadette) Soubirous (T)

February 18 - St. Simeon (T)

February 21 - St. Peter Damian (N)

February 22 - St. Paul (T)

February 22 - St. Peter's Chair at Antioch (T)

February 22 - Chair of St. Peter, apostle (N)

February 23 - St. Peter Damian (T)

February 23 - St. Polycarp (N)

February 24 - St. Matthias, apostle (T)

February 27 - St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (T)

Please Note: Above may exclude moveable feasts. For moveable feasts, see below and try here: . For other feasts, try the MCS Daily Digest each day at


2/3/13 - Sexagesima Sunday (T)

2/10/13 - Quinquagesima Sunday (T)

2/13/13 - Ash Wednesday

2/17/13 - First Sunday of Lent [Quadragesima Sunday (T)]

2/20/13 - Ember Wednesday in Lent (T)

2/22/13 - Ember Friday in Lent (T)

2/23/13 - Ember Saturday in Lent (T)

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'Catholic Trivia'

1. What are some traditional names for the Fourth Sunday of Lent?

2. Which relative of the Holy Family was martyred at age 120?

3. What does the "Leonine Wall" refer to?

4. Which pope introduced Midnight Mass at Christmas and made Lenten fasting obligatory?

5. In Arcanum, Pope Leo XIII says it is "hardly possible to describe how great are the evils" that flow from what?

6. What is the name of the 'good thief' and what connection might he have with the Holy Family?

7. What is Rome's Lenten Station Church for Good Friday?

8. What is the purpose of Laetare Sunday?

9. What are the "best alms and the most excellent act of mercy" according to the Catechism of the Council of Trent?

10. What does Pope St. Pius X say are the three obstacles in the way of Modernists?



1. Traditional names for the Fourth Sunday of Lent include: Laetare Sunday, Rose Sunday, and Sunday of the Five Loaves

2. St. Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem and relative of the Holy Family was martyred at age 120 [Ref. Liturgical Year]

3. The "Leonine Wall" refers to a 40 foot high by 12 foot thick military barricade built under Pope St. Leo IV for the protection of the Vatican during the turbulent 9th century

4. Pope St. Telesphorus (d.c. 136)

5. According to Pope Leo XIII, "Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families; the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low, and women run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the pleasures of men. Since, then, nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals, it is easily seen that divorces are in the highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and States, springing as they do from the depraved morals of the people, and, as experience shows us, opening out a way to every kind of evil-doing in public and in private life. Further still, if the matter be duly pondered, we shall clearly see these evils to be the more especially dangerous, because, divorce once being tolerated, there will be no restraint powerful enough to keep it within the bounds marked out or presurmised. Great indeed is the force of example, and even greater still the might of passion. With such incitements it must needs follow that the eagerness for divorce, daily spreading by devious ways, will seize upon the minds of many like a virulent contagious disease, or like a flood of water bursting through every barrier. These are truths that doubtlessly are all clear in themselves, but they will become clearer yet if we call to mind the teachings of experience." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

6. According to Tradition, the 'good thief' to whom Christ promised heaven while on the cross, is named St. Dismas. One account tells that Dismas (while still a thief) helped the Holy Family as they fled to Egypt.

7. Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

8. "Laetare Sunday, [in the traditional calendar,] is one of the most solemn of the year. The Church interrupts her Lenten mournfulness; the chants of the Mass speak of nothing but joy and consolation; the organ, which has been silent during the preceding three Sundays, now gives forth its melodious voice; the deacon resumes his dalmatic, and the subdeacon his tunic; and instead of purple, rose-colored vestments are allowed to be used... The Church's motive for introducing this expression of joy into [the Laetare Sunday] liturgy is to encourage her children to preserve fervently to the end of this holy season." (Gueranger)

9. According to the Catechism of the Council of Trent, "The best alms and the most excellent act of mercy is forgetfulness of injuries, and good will towards those who have injured us or ours, in person, in property, or in character. Whoever, therefore, desires to experience in a special manner the mercy of God, should make an offering to God Himself of all his enmities, remit every offence, and pray for his enemies with the greatest good will, seizing every opportunity of doing them good."

10. According to Pope St. Pius X in the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, "[Modernists] recognize that the three chief difficulties which stand in their way are the scholastic method of philosophy, the authority and Tradition of the Fathers and the Magisterium of the Church, and on these they wage unrelenting war."


For more information concerning the topics above, try our General A-Z Index at

Like trivia? You might enjoy our crossword puzzles located at

You might also be interested in the Q & A and historical information which may be found each day on the MCS Daily Digest at

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Defending the Faith: "Apologetics Brief" - Do You Criticize the Catholic Church For Her Use of Ashes on Ash Wednesday? 

It is good for Catholics to be able to defend their faith against attacks (or even simple questions) from those outside the Church. We therefore hope you may find the following "apologetics brief" helpful.

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Note: Text below is taken from

The following may be used as discussion points when discoursing with those outside the Church (or even among Catholics).

Topic: Do You Criticize the Catholic Church For Her Use of Ashes on Ash Wednesday? [Note: Topic is directed at certain Protestants]


* If you criticize the Catholic Church's use of ashes on Ash Wednesday, do you also criticize those in Scripture who used ashes (e.g. Jdth. 9:1, Job 42:6, Jonah 3:6, etc.)? Why do you criticize the use of ashes when we see them used both in the Old Testament and in Apostolic times?

* Why is it that Job, Judith, Esther, Daniel, etc. thought using ashes was an acceptable (or even necessary) practice, but you don't?

* If it is always wrong to use ashes, why do we not see God flatly condemning this practice? If it is wrong, why does Our Lord Himself refer to the use of ashes? (Note: See Mt. 11:21, Lk. 10:13)

* Do you condemn the Church for using ashes without knowing why she does this? Do you not realize this helps bring home the truth that persons are "but dust and ashes" and that they will return to dust (thereby encouraging repentance)?

* Are you aware that the use of ashes is *not* a universal requirement of the Catholic Church? Did you know that Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation? In the past, ashes were imposed "only on public penitents. In those austere days of ecclesiastical discipline, public expiation was always exacted as a reparation for public scandal. Those who sought reconciliation with God after grievous sin were required to appear at the door of the church in penitential garb on Ash Wednesday morning." As time went on, other devout souls who were not public sinners wished to join the penitents in the 'humiliation of Ash Wednesday' so that "gradually, it became the custom for all Catholics, including the clergy, to receive the ashes on that day." [Source: Fr. J. Sullivan]

* Are you aware that the presence of ashes on Ash Wednesday may help Catholics by reminding them of their grave obligation to fast on this day? Are you aware that the wearing of ashes on the forehead also serves as a public proclamation of one's faith that sometimes subjects Catholics to ridicule by others? Or are you under the mistaken impression that Catholics tend to derive some 'worldly benefit' from wearing ashes on their foreheads?

* Do you think pride is involved in the wearing of ashes on the forehead? Pride for what? Ashes are symbolic of repentance, sin, and even death. How exactly does admitting you are a sinner who will return to dust make you prideful? It's not like it's difficult to get ashes or requires great effort. Certainly, they are not 'pretty' to look at (in an earthly sense). Even those in mortal sin can get them and it only takes a few moments. And, of course, they are free. So what's to be 'proud' about? Ashes are not given to serve pride or to "make a show", but rather "to soberly remind man that he is but dust and ashes" and to signify repentance. They should bring forth humility, which you can surely see is praised in Holy Scripture.

* Are you aware that Catholics don't think ashes have any inherent power (or 'magic')? They are also not a sacrament. Ashes may be used to signify repentance, but they should not be confused with repentance itself. Further, the Church does not teach that mere external acts can be a substitute for true repentance. In fact, receiving ashes may be accounted as a "farce" if it is not accompanied by proper dispositions.

* Have you ever pondered the fact that Scripture speaks of sparing persons who had sorrow for sin and were marked on the forehead? (Note: See Ezekiel, Chapter 9)

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"The present rite of the Church of signing the foreheads of her children with blessed ashes, in the beginning of the Lenten fast, is a remnant of the ancient penitential discipline. In the good old times, when the faithful were more fervent, when they understood better the malice of sin, and had a deeper horror of it, public penance for certain crimes was ordained by the Church, and, for the most part, willingly accepted and faithfully performed. The sorrowing sinner looked upon admission to the penitential course as a precious boon, as a hope held out of his reinstatement in the enjoyment of those spiritual goods which he had forfeited by his transgression." (Fr. W. Barry)

"The sign of the holy ashes on our heads should remind us of the destiny of our earthly bodies--dust and worms. If we realize well this solemn truth, we shall undertake readily and joyously our Lenten work of fasting and praying, hoping for a recompense beyond the grave, when corruption will be changed into incorruption, when this mortal body will be clothed with immortality." (Fr. W. Barry)

"It was the ordinary time for sinners entering a course of public canonical penance, into which they were initiated by the prayers of the Bishop with his clergy, and the imposition of his hands, when he laid ashes on the heads of the penitents. This is the origin of the ceremony of putting ashes on our foreheads on this day, as an emblem and exterior mark of the interior consecration of our hearts to the exercises of penance. It is not a superstitious practice, but an holy ceremony used by the church from its most early times, and recommended by the example of the patriarchs and prophets recorded in the holy scriptures" (Butler)

"It is not therefore an idle ceremony, but a token or mark that we are consecrated to the practice of severe penance for our sins. To receive this ceremony without the spirit and sentiments of penitence is no better than gross hypocrisy, disobedience and mockery." (Butler)

"On Ash Wednesday the Church begins the penitential season of Lent, the forty days of mortification during which her children are called upon to remember that they must chastise their bodies and bring them into subjection; that he who neglects to do penance is in danger of perishing; and that at all times the Christian must remember his last end and his return to the dust from which he was taken. As we are all conscious that by nature we are 'children of wrath,' we are urged to appease the offended majesty of God by the practice of penance and mortification; and the Church teaches us this solemn duty by the impressive ceremony of the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday." (Fr. J. Sullivan)

"The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead - or in case of clerics upon the place of the tonsure - of each the sign of the cross, saying the words: 'Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.' The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

"But Simon began, though secretly, to go amongst his friends and acquaintances, and to malign [the Apostle St.] Peter more than before. Then all spat in his face, and drove him from the city, saying: 'You will be chargeable with your own death, if you think of coming hither again, speaking against Peter.' These things being known at Laodicea, Peter ordered the people to meet on the following day; and having ordained one of those who followed him as bishop over them, and others as presbyters, and having baptized multitudes, and restored to health all who were troubled with sicknesses or demons, he stayed there three days longer; and all things being properly arranged, he bade them farewell, and set out from Laodicea, being much longed for by the people of Antioch. And the whole city began to hear, through Niceta and Aquila, that Peter was coming. Then all the people of the city of Antioch, hearing of Peter's arrival, went to meet him, and almost all the old men and the nobles came with ashes sprinkled on their heads, in this way testifying their repentance, because they had listened to the magician Simon, in opposition to his preaching." (Attr. St. Clement of Rome)

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For more apologetics resources, please visit

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In Closing...

"O Lord Jesus Christ, who, becoming subject to Mary and Joseph, didst hallow home life by singular virtues; by the help of both, do thou grant that we may be taught by the example of thy Holy Family, and have fellowship with it for evermore: Who livest." (Collect, Feast of the Holy Family)

"Remember then, that although you were made from nothing, you were not redeemed with nothing. In six days God created all things, including you, but for thirty years he worked out your salvation including the ignominy of dying on the cross." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church)

"Jesus reigns over the family when it, modeled after the holy ideals of the sacrament of matrimony instituted by Christ, maintains unspotted its true character of sanctuary. In such a sanctuary of love, parental authority is fashioned after the authority of God, the Father, from Whom, as a matter of fact, it originates and after which even it is named. (Ephesians iii, 15) The obedience of the children imitates that of the Divine Child of Nazareth, and the whole family life is inspired by the sacred ideals of the Holy Family." (Pope Pius XI, "Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio", 1922 A.D.)

"Indeed, if one thing more than another presents difficulty to the mind and understanding of man, assuredly it is the mystery of the cross, which, beyond all doubt, must be considered the most difficult of all; so much so that only with great difficulty can we grasp the fact that our salvation depends on the cross, and on Him who for us was nailed thereon." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"...whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 10:38)

"The cross is the ladder to Heaven." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"He that seeks not the cross of Christ seeks not the glory of Christ." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

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