This week we start our annual penitential season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. The practice of fasting from food and abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday echoes the theme of self-discipline found in the liturgical prayers of Lent. Self-control can seem to be downplayed in the modern day. Yet there are contemporary examples that remind us that nothing worthwhile is attained without effort and sacrifice. We see this most clearly with our elite athletes. Every single sports champion regardless of natural talent has had to exercise self-discipline to attain excellence. Lent does not teach us that Heaven is gained by natural human effort and striving. But it does remind us that cooperation with God’s grace involves effort and sacrifice. Fr Nicolas Maurice
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