Ash Wednesday, the Beginning of Lent
The Church Invites Us Back
Blessed Ash Wednesday!
We are once again upon the season of Lent, Ash Wednesday 2022. Today many of us approached the priest or minister in our parishes, churches and monasteries to receive the Cross-shaped mark of ashes on our foreheads. We heard the words: “You are dust and to dust you shall return,” (Mk. 1:15) or “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Gen. 3:19). Holy Mother Church extends her hand to each of us as if to say, “Come, now, let us set things right. Though your sins be as scarlet they may become white as snow. Though crimson red, they may become white as wool,” (Is. 1:18). She invites us back to her welcoming embrace through our repentance and resolve to turn away from sin in our lives and try to begin again on the narrow path.
Jesus Shows Us the Way Back
Our Lord Jesus is the Head of his Body, the Church. He shows us through the ministers of his Church on Earth (his Holy Word, his ordained priests and ministers, the Sacraments and countless other means) the way that leads back to Him. We have all failed to live for God and to love as He asks us to. Now is the time the Church has given–a time particularly graced for conversion of heart–to return to the Lord “with fasting, mourning and weeping” (Joel 2:12), to reflect soberly on our lives, to make more space for the Lord.
So much is available to help us stay focused during the Lenten season. First of all we have the daily Mass readings and the opportunity to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as much as our schedule allows. Parishes offer special programs and times for extra prayer. They usually offer ways to minister to the poor or other ways to “give alms”. There are endless possibilities available on the internet today in regards to helps for prayer, activities, reflection, inspiration and even online prayer groups for community with other believers.
A Firm Resolve
Can you picture Holy Mother Church as an image of motherly arms (perhaps our Blessed Mother, Image of the Church) extended out, open wide, gentle, loving and inviting? Not in any way other than filled with LOVE, forgiveness, peace, joy, longing for you?
Let us decide to make this the best Lent we have yet lived. Let us remember this time is given for our benefit in preparation for the great mystery of our salvation: the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! Remember the portion of the Act of Contrition that says “I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin”?
The more we put into our preparation and the more we empty ourselves even to the point of discomfort and sacrifice, the more we will be FILLED with the power of Jesus’ RESURRECTION!
Since we refrain from saying the “A” word during Lent, we’ll conclude with a heartfelt cry of: “AMEN … PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF ENDLESS GLORY!”