Ash Wednesday – February 17, 2021 – the Beginning of Lent
Today we begin the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday has special significance for us as Catholics. Traditionally we are signed with ashes on our forehead. This year because of COVID we will be sprinkled with ashes on our heads. This seems so strange to us, but it has been the custom of many countries in Europe. We have been through changes with the words used imposing the ashes over the years. For me growing up the priest would say: “Remember man that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” In more recent years they say: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
It seems that the Advent and Christmas seasons were only a short time ago. If you are like me, thinking about the six weeks of Lent can be overwhelming, like it will never end, and that Easter is so far off.
The Church, in her wisdom, gives us the many seasons of the Liturgical year so that we have the time to look at the life of Christ from many vantage points, all of which are meant to bring us into a more intimate relationship with God. This past year I have really been focusing on the feasts of the Church year and how I encounter Jesus in each one.
Lent calls us to fast, pray and give alms. This can be challenging, but it helps us to recognize God in a new way and guides us in reflecting on where we are in relationship with the God who loves us and is always with us.
I encourage you to take a little extra time each day for prayer, to read scripture or to say the Stations of the Cross. Maybe it is time to go to Mass or watch it on TV. You may decide that just looking at the crucifix and meditating on the love that God has for you is a good prayer time.
Knowing that God died on the cross because He loves you, and that He calls you to do your best every day gives us a great deal to reflect on. Knowing that He will be waiting for when you pass from this world to the next is an unbelievable discovery when we know it in our hearts, not just our heads.
In the end, it’s the revelation of the Paschal mystery – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – which we contemplate during Lent, that leads us each year to the deeper understanding that we are only pilgrims on a journey, and it is in the end of this life that we will be welcomed home for eternity.
May we come to know this at a deeper level this Lent.
Sr. Joanne Callahan, OSU