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  1. John 1:23 John (the Baptist) replied in the words of the prpohet Isaiah:“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’I was raised Roman Catholic and came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior in the late 1970?s. Still there are many experiences and religious traditions that I value from my Catholic upbringing. I have always appreciated being taught that the Bible was, in fact, the inspired Word of God. Whenever I fly to New York, I always plan arrival such that I can make Mass & Communion at St. Pat’s. And, of course, there is no greater experience than to be at a Notre Dame football game in South Bend and watch the Fighting Irish Marching Band enter the stadium with 80,000 screaming fans. So, today, I fulfilled another favorite tradition and went to an Ash Wednesday Mass where ashes in the sign of the cross were scruffed on my forehead.The brief sermon came from a visiting minister who said when growing up, Lent always meant giving up things – meat, sweets, movies etc. but that he had come to a new understanding. He now believes Lent is a time to decidedly make transformation in your relationship with God. It is not a time to punish oneself – Jesus did all that was necessary at the Cross. No, Lent is a time to address obstacles that pose barriers to your relationship with God – shining light on those secret sins that always seem to block our communion with Our Father.Ha! Last year I successfully gave up Diet Vanilla Coke that had become an obsession only to replace it with Diet Sierra Mist after Easter. This year will be different. There are obstacles that I plan to address – starting today – in order to further transform my life so that I have a closer relationship with God. For today, those ashes are a reminder of John the Baptists cry.“Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!”

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