|Here I am, Lord,|
ready for your grace.
Come and help me
become the person
you want me to be.
Today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 40 days before Easter where we Catholics prepare ourselves for the Resurrection. We do this by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. I know these are things that we should be doing all year long, but Lent is a time to emphasize these things.
I myself since a young girl have always felt something special for Lent. Why? That is what I was asking myself this morning in Mass. I often go to daily Mass and usually there are not many people in the pews, but today was different. Ash Wednesday is not even a Holy Day of Obligation, so why so many people? Maybe, people feel the same way about Lent as I do. A Chance. Lent seems like a do over. The priest summed it up this morning . . . he said "Lent is the time to repent and live the gospel." A chance to repent, a chance to live the gospel more fully. Lent is a time for me to consider who I am and what I need to let go of. I guess it seems even greater because the whole church is doing it with me.
It may seem confusing to hear today's gospel (Matthew 6:1-18) "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. . . . . pray to your Father in secret . . . when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. . . . but when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting." So are we Catholics, hypocrites running around with ash crosses on our foreheads? Should we run home and wash the ash off? No, we are not hypocrites. One day a year we are wearing our hearts on our sleeves, or should I say crosses on our heads. It is a testament of who we are and who we are trying to be. It may even remind others who have fallen away from the faith to come back. It will call in a gentle whisper not a loud yell.
Our ash crosses is mostly a reminder to ourselves of the coming days of lent and of our coming day of death. It reminds us that if we continue to be steadfast we receive our reward of Easter Sunday with all it's beautiful feasting and celebration and then more importantly our reward of everlasting glory with the Resurrected Christ.
What mostly matters is how we wear our crosses. How we sacrifice, pray and fast during the next 40 days only matters if we do it out of deep humility and love. I know I am no where near to being the saint that God wants me to be. But each lent with my efforts beside Jesus, I follow Him closely up the hill to Calvary. This is the time for me to renew my efforts and take special care to soften my heart to my God. For it is only then that I can truly experience what He has in store for me.
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
"Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.
Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation."
|Dear Father, may my heart|
be open to all you have
in store for me.