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Modern Day Pharisees?

On average, Ash Wednesday (which is not a Holy Day of Obligation) has better attendance than do most Holy Days of Obligation. How can this possibly happen? This was not always the case. Of course, Catholics have not always been as confused about the faith as they are today, either. Here is a challenging twist to this whole scenario: if people willingly attend Ash Wednesday Mass (which is not required) but refuse to go to a Holy Day of Obligation (which is a grave sin, and if not repented of will lead a person to Hell), then they are living one of the most radical contradictions ever.

What do I mean by that? To attend the Mass that begins Lent (the season of repentance) and yet be unrepentant about obeying one of the precepts of the Church (to assist at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation), means that a person is deeply hypocritical. You cannot give and take in the same motion; you cannot say "God I repent" while you refuse to repent.

I do not say any of this to offend, but I know it probably will offend someone. Of all the people in the first century that Jesus attacked, the Pharisees were clearly the ones He considered the worst (impenitent pagans fared better than the Pharisees in Jesus' eyes!). The Pharisees were the religious "puritans" of the first century (after all, the word "Pharisee" means "puritan"!), and Jesus made it clear that they were the most gravely evil in all Israel. Can Catholics today fall into the same error? Of course!

Today is Ash Wednesday and, yes, you should go to Mass if you can. Do not go for the wrong reason, and do not go with the wrong heart. If you realize you are not fully penitent for your sins, then Ash Wednesday is a great time to begin to change. But change; truly and sincerely, change. Only the grace of Christ Almighty can make it possible; go to Him and He will do miracles with your soul.


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