“But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving my be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Mt. 6:3)

Bishop Peter Muhich
Homily from Ash Wednesday Mass
February 22, 2023

Repent and believe in the Gospel.

The church’s Liturgy and liturgical seasons are designed to meet our human needs and to help us grow in our faith. And in the church’s mercy, in the Liturgy, we cycle again and again back to the season of Lent because we need to. Out of human weakness we can fall back into patterns of sin. Out of human weakness we can become distracted by the things of this world. As much as we remind ourselves, out of human weakness, these things happen to us and so in its wisdom the church gives us this season of grace, these 40 days to prepare for the most important celebration of the church year. Recalling that Christ, and this is the good news that we repent and believe in, has overcome sin and death at the price of his one perfect sacrifice and opened the way back to the father, preparing for the coming of the Holy Spirit that now fills us and makes us participators, sharers in God’s divine light. But again, humans that we are, we need to go back over this territory again and again. Our “yes” to God must be a daily “yes” and in the church’s wisdom it’s fortified or helped to make that “yes” by these holy seasons. Of course, the church today recommends to us very ancient practices that help us turn from our distractions and sins and put our attention back on God.

So, fasting, and prayer, and almsgiving. Holy men and women have used these tools these practices for millennia in order to turn back to God and to shed the distractions and sins of this world. I trust we’ve all been abstaining from meat today and fasting some. You might be a little weak and lightheaded right now because of your fast today. I’m a little bit that way myself. But that’s a good thing. We’re creating in ourselves, intentionally, this feeling of hunger reminding ourselves that we should hunger for the one necessary thing — communion with God and Jesus Christ in the power of the spirit.

Almsgiving. To recognize Jesus and the poor and to give of the abundance that God has shared with us. We make special efforts during Lent to do that, to sacrifice a little so that people who have so little can have some comfort and assistance in their plight. Catholic Social Services benefits from the Ash Wednesday collection every year here in our diocese and I encourage you to give generously to help. That’s our Catholic charities. That’s our almsgiving and Catholic action on the ground right here in Rapid City and throughout western South Dakota.

And prayer. There are so many different ways to pray. Certainly, coming to Mass on Ash Wednesday, coming to adoration, stations of the cross, taking a Lent booklet and making a little time, maybe more time hopefully, in your schedule at home for some quiet time and prayer shutting out the world’s noise and opening up your attention more deeply to God.

So, repent and believe in the Gospel. The good news that Jesus Christ is overcome sin and death and shares that victory with us knowing our human weakness. We know that we need to renew our “yes” to him today and every day.  My prayer for you is that you have a rich and blessed Lenten season where the Lord can speak to your heart in new and deeper ways and that the practice of Lent will not just be an outward sign but will help us engage in this interior conversion, this change within ourselves so that we make more room for God in our lives and allow him to make us holy.

Excerpts from the English translation of Lectionary for Mass ©1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation, (ICEL); Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL; All rights reserved. Music streamed with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A-704305. All rights reserved. Simple English Propers by Adam Bartlett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at https://musicasacra.com/sep. All rights reserved.

Ash Wednesday Collection

Please remember Catholic Social Services at the annual Ash Wednesday collection today in parishes across the diocese. Your contributions help us accomplish so much for so many! If you can’t attend Mass in person today, you can still contribute to CSS here: https://www.cssrapidcity.com/donate-aw or by calling 605-348-6086