―"Excuse me, there’s a smudge on your forehead." ―Oh, thank you, but those are ashes." ―"Why do you put ashes on your forehead?"
It’s a good question. Ashes remind us that we are mortal creatures, created by God our loving Father. We owe every second of our existence to our loving Creator who sustains our every heart beat and breath, and God calls us to faithfully follow Jesus Christ in his Catholic Church to the fullness of heaven—perpetual communion with God and his Saints.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which is an opportunity to review our life, ask important questions about our relationship with God and others, especially between our family and family of faith members.
Lent – a time to start anew! The word ―lent‖ is associated with springtime because it comes from the Old English word ―lengten,‖ as in the ―lengthening of daylight.‖
Lent is now a liturgical word that designates the liturgical season of renewal. It is a time to turn to God with greater knowledge and sorrow for our sins so as to receive the gifts of God’s purify-ing forgiveness and blessing from his generous hands. This allows us to rejoice in God’s merciful love and compassion, and to share them with others.
Of course, all these gifts come with a price – namely the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. His total self-denial made him poor that we might become rich in saving grace – God’s divine life within our soul that is needed to follow his Ten Commandments to heaven. We are called to give alms to the poor and share the wealth of our faith, and so follow Jesus’ example.
Jesus Christ’s total self-gift to God the Father was done out of complete love for God and us, that we might share God’s divine life. We there-fore pray with greater fervor and self-abandonment, fasting that our prayers and souls would be less attached to this world and more open to the things of heaven.
During this holy season we enter more deeply
into the life, ministry, suffering and death of Jesus Christ, for this is how he redeemed the world. Lent is a time of preparation which will bring us to Holy Week when we live the three holiest days of the liturgical year — TRIDUUM — Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday Vigil/Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday is the Mother of all Sun-days which are days of Solemnity. For this reason, all Fridays throughout the year are days of penance in preparation for Sunday—a solemn day of worshipping God through Christ as a community of faith, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
As I wrote in last Sunday’s Bulletin, ―the penitential days for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year,‖ with an emphasis during Fridays of Lent to increase our self-imposed devotions such as Stations of the Cross, as well as fasting and abstaining from meat.
May we persevere in our Lenten resolve to ―Repent, and believe in the Gospel,‖ which is a turning away from sin and following Jesus Christ, not only by keeping the Ten Commandments, but by deepening our life with Christ by living more authentically the Beatitudes. Jesus Christ lived the Gospel perfectly, and calls us to proclaim him as our Lord and Savior of the world. By doing this, we share in the joy and glory of his RESURRECTION on earth which leads to perfect life and happiness, wisdom and joy with the triune God in heaven!
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe