Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What motivates you to be faithful and fervent with your prayers and other religious practices? - Daily Reflections June 17,2015

The Gospel proclamation for today reminds us of Ash Wednesday. This leads me to recall a memorable Ash Wednesday experience last year. An unexpected need for a retreat facilitator for the growing community of the Daughters of St. Paul in Pakistan made me go to their community in Lahore, where I had been 22 years ago. I arrived in Lahore via Bangkok on February 19 and celebrated the beginnings of Lent in that country. During the Ash Wednesday Mass that I had with the nuns, we had the imposition of ashes on the forehead, but right after the liturgical celebration — before going out into the streets — we had to erase our cross of ashes. In contrast, I thought of how Filipinos in Manila and elsewhere in the Philippines try to preserve their cross of ashes the whole day.
       It is a good thing, and we must be grateful, that we in the Philippines are able to publicly celebrate our Christian faith. However, as the Gospel proclaims, what is more important is the congruence of our external acts of piety with what is in our hearts and minds. God sees what is deep within us. He cannot be simply taken by appearances.
       Returning to my story about my Lenten experience in Pakistan, I found out another interesting detail. They may not be so keen about keeping their cross of ashes on their foreheads, but their way of fasting and abstinence for Ash Wednesday shames the Filipino way. Having to witness to the Christian faith before Muslims, who are accustomed to fast from everything from sunrise to sunset for the whole month of Ramadan, the devout Catholics in Pakistan fast and abstain from sunrise to sunset of Ash Wednesday by taking only tea — even when on a social call. Fr. Domie Guzman SSP
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What motivates you to be faithful and fervent with your prayers and other religious practices? Do you pray in a “secret place”? What is your favorite place for personal prayer where you can truly pray well? Why?
Help me to live holy, Lord, especially when no one is looking.

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