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Homily for Ash Wednesday by Cardinal Pio Laghi
- “Every year on this day, Ash Wednesday, the Church begins a spiritual journey, a renewal of her existence and a rediscovery of her life with God. The journey is rooted in the words that we will hear in a few moments when ashes are placed on us: “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.” It is the message of Christ himself: turn away from darkness, evil and death and begin walking towards light, goodness and life. She embarks upon this journey by undertaking those spiritual exercises described by our Lord in the Gospel today: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
- For the Holy See, that is for the Catholic Church, peace is built on four pillars: truth, justice, love and freedom. The Church’s solicitude for peace has been a constant one and that is why she never tires in her work for the cause of peace. She believes that peace can always be constructed even in the darkest moments. She believes in the power of the human mind and courage of the human heart to find peaceful solutions to disagreements, using the vast and rich patrimony of international law and institutions created for that very purpose. Oh, yes, they may be incomplete; they may act too slowly at times; they may not have yet even caught up with realities of our times that threaten world order. But they are based on principles that are true and relative for all times: honest and patient dialogue between and among disagreeing parties and the absolute duty of each member of the family of Nations to comply fully with all its obligations. That is why she believes that war is a defeat for humanity; that is, it is a defeat for our intelligence, our creativity and our firm conviction that peace is always possible.
- In a few moments, ashes will be placed on our heads. They will remind us of our fragility and of our finiteness. They will remind us where we came from. They will remind us to where we shall return. We know that in our human imperfection we may always live under the threat of war, but we also know that united to “Christ, our peace” (Eph. 2: 14) we can safeguard and preserve that same precious gift of peace (GS, 78, 6).”
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops