| Fire up your fervor|
The Verbumquo for today is "cineres", the Latin word for "ashes" which we receive on this Ash Wednesday as an outward sign that we are marked by the sign of Christ and willing to put on the cloak of humility. by
Editor's Note: This series highlights one word from the Proper of the day's Mass. Taking the Latin Verbum and Quotidianum, which mean respectively "Word" and "Daily", we we have coined the word "Verbumquo" by contracting quotidianum to quo and running it together as VerbumQUO for this feature series, thus "The Daily Word," as in the sum of the message, the 'quotient', if you will. It is also our hope that in choosing the Latin word with its meaning and etimology more will be attuned to hearing the word read at the altar and better comprehend the beauty of the Mother tongue. Hopefully in this Time of Lent we can gain a higher appreciation and contemplation on how the Daily Proper of the Holy Mass applies in our lives in alignment with the will of Christ and His Blessed Immaculate Mother and His Mystical Bride, His Holy Roman Catholic Church.
ent has arrived. Even if one is not a church-goer, the reminder that this is Ash Wednesday is only too obvious on the multitude of foreheads that populate the work places, schools and in the public sector. It is the Catholic's way of telling the world he is Catholic and proud of it. At least that was the way before Vatican II. Since then there have been many who rub off their ashes after receiving them for fear of "being labeled" or "persecuted" because they are "Catholic." The fact of the matter is if one is Catholic they can never be ashamed of their Faith. To do so is to say he is ashamed of Christ
. But that is the sad state the vast majority find themselves in today because they have aligned with the false church that claims to be "Catholic" but in its actions, deeds, and words is anything but.
And that is why we chose, as the VerbumQUO today, the Latin word cineres which means "ashes" for it is to ashes we shall become. A synonym for ashes is "dust" of which we are reminded of by the Lord's words in Genesis 3: 19, which are pronounced over us when the priest applies ashes to our foreheads: Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris - "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return." Such a powerful reminder should knock us to our knees and prompt us to beg forgiveness, to amend our ways and do penance. Holy Mother Church in her infinite wisdom, provides just that opportunity with a little thing called Lent. It lasts 40 days (46 days actually until Easter with 40 leading to Palm Sunday and Holy Week and 43 leading to the Easter Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday). Regardless of the numbers, it is a time given to us to intensify our commitment to our Lord and Savior and the holy Church He founded.
The word "ashes" is an Anglo Saxon derivation from asce but from the Latin word for "ashes" we get cineres from which are formulated the words "incinerated", "cinders", and now we can see the root of "cinema" closely resembles the concept for what Hollywood offers today is nothing that is lasting but will be reduced to ashes. Let us look at a few of the words from cineres:
"cinereous" - "Like, or of the nature of, ashes." "cinerate" - verb, From the Latin root cinis, cineris meaning "To burn to ashes; to consume, or be consumed, by fire; cremate." From this comes incinerator, or to incinerate - burn inside.
While "cremation" today has become an acceptable, but wrong, way for burials in the conciliar church, the True Church teaches that our flesh and bone will become dust, but that we ourselves should not generate this or direct that it become such. Rather we should opt for burial in order that our body, which is in God's hands, can be reunited to our souls in Heaven at the time of the "resurrection of the body." Since putting dust on someone's forehead would be most difficult and not be as visible a sign, Holy Mother Church has chosen ashes. But again, this is no condoning whatsoever of reducing the body to ashes through burning.
The noted theologian and Abbot Dom Gueranger writes in The Liturgical Year, volume 4 for Ash Wednesday the following insight:
"When fallen man would humble himself before the divine justice, which has sentenced his body to return to dust, how could he more aptly express his contrite acceptance of the sentence, than by sprinkling himself, or his food, with ashes, which is the dust of wood consumed by fire? This earnest acknowledgment of his being himself but dust and ashes, is an act of humility, and humility ever gives him confidence in that God, Who resists the proud and pardons the humble."
We see what the Abbot means in the Gospel for today's Mass which I will focus on briefly later on. But the key word is humility for not only Ash Wednesday, not only Lent, but for our entire life for pride is the great downfall, truly "pride goeth before the fall." In order not to fall, we must put on the cloak of humility best exemplified in the outward sign of ashes.
Thus, before the Mass for Ash Wednesday begins we have the "Blessing of the Ashes." The priest blesses the palms from last Palm Sunday which have been burnt to a crisp, literally speaking, to ashes. This is a beautiful ceremony consisting of Antiphons and Prayers reminding us why this season is so important as we see in the various prayers recited, beginning with the First Prayer:
|Omnipotens sempiterna Deus, parce poentientibus, propitare supplicantibus : et mittere digneris sanctum Angelum tuum de caelis, qui benedicat, et sanctificet hos cineras, ut sint remedium salubre omnibus nomen sanctum tuum humiliter implorantibus, ac semetipsos pro conscientia delictorum suorum accusantibus, ante conspectum divinae clementiae tuae facinora sua deplorantibus, vel serenissimam pietatem tuam suppliciter obnixeque flagitantibus : et praesta per invocationem sanctissimi nominis tui : ut quicumque per eos asperse fuerint, pro redemptione peccatorum suorum corporis sanitatem, et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominium nostrum. Amen. |
|O almighty and eternal God, spare those who are penitent, be merciful to those who supplicate Thee; and vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angel from heaven, to bless and sanctify these ashes, that they may be a wholesome remedy to all who humbly implore Thy holy name, and accuse themselves as a result of the consciousness of their sins, deploring their crimes before Thy divine clemency, or humbly and earnestly beseeching Thy sovereign mercy : and grant through the invocation of Thy most holy name that all who may be sprinkled with them for the remission of their sins may receive health of body and safety of soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. |
We can see here where we come humbly before God and ask for His mercy, the theme throughout Lent, and incorporate in this one prayer three of the four atttributable acts found in every Holy Mass: Adoration, Expiation and Petition. The same holds for the Second Prayer:
| Deus, Qui non mortem, sed poenitentiam desideras peccatorum : fragilitatem conditionis humanae benignissime respece; et hos cineres, quos causa proferendae humilitatis, atque promerendae veniae, capitibus nostris imponi decernimus, benedicere pro tua pietate dignare : ut, qui nos cinerem esse, et ob pravitatis nostrae demeritum, in pulverem reversuros cognoscimus; peccatorum ommium veniam, et praemia poentientibus repromissa, misericorditer consequi mereamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. |
|O God, who desirest not the death of sinners, but rather their repentance, look down most graciously upon the frailty of human nature, and in Thy goodness vouchsafe to bless these ashes which we intend to put upon our heads in token of humility and that we may obtain pardon; that we who know that we are dust, and for the penalty of our guilt must return unto dust, may deserve to obtain of Thy mercy the pardon of all sins, and the rewards promised to penitents. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. |
Here expiation takes center stage for we admit our wrongs and plead for God to have mercy on us and others. It is a solemn reminder to all of our eventual temporal demise and therefore, only the promise of eternal life should occupy our thoughts and actions. In the Third Prayer we turn to petition:
|Deus, Qui humiliatione flecteris, et satisfactione placaris: aurem tuae pietatis inclina precibus nostris ; et capitibus servorum tuorum, horum cinerum aspersione contactis, effunde propitius gratiam tuae benedictionis : ut eos et spiritu compunctinis repleas, et quae juste postulaverint, efficaciter tribuas; et concessa perpetuo stabilita, et intacta manere decernas. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. |
| O God, who are moved by humiliation, and appeased by satisfaction : incline the ear of Thy goodness to our prayers, and favorably pour forth upon the heads of Thy servants sprinkled with these ashes the grace of Thy blessing, that Thou mayest both fill them with the spirit of compunction, and effectually grant what they have justly prayed for : and ordain that what Thou hast granted may be permanently established and remain inviolate. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.|
Here we willingly supplicate God to sprinkle us with ashes to keep us on the straight and narrow. You'll note that in these magnificent prayers is the qualifier that we are willing to do all that God asks before we ever should ask Him.
| Omnipotens sempiterna Deus, qui Ninivitis in cinere et cilicio poentientibus, indulgentiae tuae remedia, praestitisti ; concede propitius ; ut sic eos imitemur habitu, quatenus veniae prospequajur obtentu. Per Dominum. Amen. |
| Almighty and eternal God, who didst grant the remedy of Thy pardon to the Ninivites doing penance in ashes and sackcloth, mercifully grant that we may so imitate them in our attitude that like them we may obtain forgiveness. Through our Lord. Amen.|
In the Fifth Prayer we harken back to the fruits of donning ashes and putting on sackcloth as a reference to doing penance and deny our selves comforts in order to strengthen us and remind us of our part in earning salvation.
With these prayers pronounced as our testament to God of our commitment, the priest incenses and sprinkles with holy water three times the ashes in the bowl. He, in proper order, is the first to receive the ashes and thereafter those within the sanctuary and then the faithful. This is a solemn time and we should regard it as such. While hygiene is important, going a day or two without a shower or washing your face isn't necessarily a bad thing immediately following Ash Wednesday. Those few days following can be an outward sign of your visible recognition for yourself and others that all the cosmetics and deodarents mean nothing if our soul is not pure. Do you think the Ninivites smelled good after 40 days of wearing sackcloth and ashes? Can you say "pewww"? But the fragrance of sincerity masked any odor before God Who recognized their commitment and rewarded them justly by staying His hand.
In today's world that merciful gesture on God's part is one-sided since so many tempt fate by continuing to do their own thing, and while they overstress bodily cleanliness with synthetic agents that mask bodily pores, they neglect totally their souls which have built up a molded crust because of their negligence. Lent is a reminder to clean up. God has provided for His chosen Church the opportunity to wash away our sins and make expiation so that we can also shorten our time in Purgatory and help those very souls now listed among the Church Suffering.
This message is carried out in the Holy Mass that follows with the constant reminder of mercy from the Introit Misereris to the Epistle of Joel 2 to the Gradual and Tract to the Gospel where Christ reminds His disciples that action without true repentance and sincerity are worthless and that we must not place emphasis on treasures of this earth for they will decay, but to concentrate and focus all our efforts on storing up spiritual treasures for that is where the dividends truly will pay off. As our Lord reminds us, whichever we choose, that is where our heart is and that is what God reads. No one can fool Him, try as they might, no one.
With this knowledge, how can anyone not realize that all we prize on this earth will be reduced to ashes? And if they are not vigilant and sincere, those ashes will last forever in the fiery regions of gehenna with no relief and no deodorent. Talk about stinking up one's life! The everlasting incinerator awaits those who eschew God and His mercies. So, in order to avoid those ashes being scattered to the winds of hell and not reunited in our heavenly bodies, let's all take Ash Wednesday seriously and all that is asked of us and more during Lent in order to successfully pass through our trial of fire on this earth to avoid the everlasting fire. We can only do this by putting on the armor of God and the cloak of humility. The marching orders are clear: fire up your fervor. Michael Cain, editor, DailyCatholic
VerbumQUO for ASH WEDNESDAY