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        In the Sundays previous to Lent, Holy Mother the Church gives us in summary form which is needed to be done to have eternal life.  As we enter the Lenten season, the Church teaches us in detail what we must specifically do to have eternal life. . .repent. 

        Man is a sinner and he who says he has no sin is a liar, St. John states.  For the sinner to have eternal life he must repent.  And repentance consists in three elements, prayer, fasting and good works:  "When you fast . . .When you pray . . .When you do good. . ." Repentance is not a payment for one's sins;  there is no way man can pay for his sins because of the Dignity of the God who has been offended.  Repentance is meant to win God's mercy so that like the unfaithful servant, God may forgive the thousand debts that we are unable to pay for. 

        Repentance is not praying, fasting and performing good works in the way and manner we want.  For true repentance, we must pray, fast and perform good works in the way and manner that Christ  had taught.  And the first lesson given on Ash Wednesday is that our prayer and fasting and good works must be performed without the taint of any desire to please men, win the admiration of men, to be known and seen by men, desire for publicity and votes or any other human or worldly consideration.  These must be done to win the mercy of God and for no other reason. 

        Fasting in the right way must be perfected before anyone can pray and perform good works properly.  Fasting is to give up our personal wishes and to desire only to do the will of God.  Only then can we truly pray "Your will be done."  If you have not fasted from doing your own will, your prayer will always be "My will be done."  God detests such a prayer precisely because it is against what He has taught. 

        The masses during the week and the coming Sundays will further discuss how to fast, pray and perform good works in a manner pleasing to God. 

St. Thomas of Aquinas 







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