Ash Wednesday - February 17

Patrick Coleman, Givecentral CEO

I love being Catholic. It has been my identity since even before my birth. I am sure that my grandmothers and family said many rosaries even before I took my first breath. In Chicago where I grew up, you knew someone not by their neighborhood but by their parish. I am from St. Mary of the Woods, a church and school of Divine Revelation. Being Catholic wasn’t only about prayer, it was who we were in the deepest part of ourselves whether we were at mass, in class or competing on the basketball court.

During my grade school years, I always enjoyed the irony as we prepared for our basketball or football games against our main rival. Both teams prayed to Our Lady of Victory, although we knew that Our Lady preferred St. Mary of the Woods over Queen of All Saints.

Knowing we were Catholic always meant that we knew that God was present in every moment of our lives whether learning, fighting or praying. Knowing that meant that ultimately every moment became sacramental. Through faith, every moment becomes transformed from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

I have always loved praying in different churches, hearing different languages and the symphony of different voices but one faith and one creed. I have loved praying in our Italian, Hungarian, Polish, Greek and English speaking churches. I love praying with my cousins in Ireland and at a sunset liturgy with farm workers. I loved praying at home with my family as we held my father’s hand before he died.

I hope this Lent that we can learn to listen and love the different voices we hear in our faith community. I hope that we can remember what has given us real joy in our Church, and I hope that we can see God present even when we fight, disagree or compete. When we do, we all may see, as I do every day, that in every moment we are part of an extraordinary, sacramental world. Our Lady of Victory, Pray For Us.

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Personal Reflection Questions

Lent is a time of self-examination and renewal. Consider using the reflection prompts below to help further your contemplation and open your minds and hearts during the 40-day journey of Lent.

  • What is a favorite childhood memory of the Church?
  • How do I see God present even in disagreement or competition?
  • Where have I experienced the ordinary become extraordinary for me?

Thank you for being part of our virtual mission and journeying with us through our Lenten Reflection Series: One Church, Many Voices. As you hear the voices of others through these prayerful reflections, we hope they inspire meditation and renewal during this holy season of Lent. Check back on February 21 for our next reflection.

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  • Ash Wednesday
  • First Reading — JL 2:12-18
  • Second Reading — 2 Cor 5:20-6:2
  • Gospel — MT 6:1-6, 16-18