Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Ash Wednesday Message from Msgr. John Enzler

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Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. 

Father John distributed ashes at a mass held for staff.
For many of us, Lent is a time when we make sacrifices that help us to cherish and keep close the sacrifice Christ made for us. Additionally, days of fasting remind us to always stand in solidarity with those whose hunger pangs come more frequently and without choice.

Growing up, I was taught by my parents that there were three pillars to the Catholic participation in Lent: fasting, prayer and alms giving. As a youngster, I would dutifully give up sweets or candy and say extra prayers in the morning or evening with my father or mother by my side. But I did not understand alms giving. 

As an adult, I now better understand how important it is for me to share my blessings with others. I see much more clearly just how blessed I am. These blessings come both in the treasures which afford me safety and security, but also in the warmth and support of family and friends like you. 

This Lent, I want to see our community extend that warmth in an overwhelming way to our neighbors in need. Each year, Catholic Charities’ programs reach and help more than 100,000 people. How great could our impact be if everyone who read this committed to doing at least one act of kindness and service during Lent for someone in need?

Like today’s Gospel lesson from Matthew 6: 1-6 reminds us, you don’t need to pledge or proclaim your righteous works to me or anyone else. Offer it instead as a gift to our Father in heaven. If you can promise to add one good act to your Lent, please visit to find out ways you can help.
I hope this Ash Wednesday and Lenten season are a period of reflection and growth for you and your family. Growing up, I longed for the end of Lent, which brought the tidings of spring and the celebration of Easter. Now, I find a special sense of purpose in these 40 days and in finding new ways to stand in solidarity with the poor and to be the face of Christ for those in need.

May God bless you,
Monsignor John J. Enzler
President and CEO
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington 

Take action:
This Lent, help us feed our neighbors through the Share in Hope Food Drive
Support the work of Catholic Charities through an online donation
Learn more about volunteer opportunities available through Catholic Charities