Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lent: Ash Wednesday begins the journey ...

... the journey (hopefully) to a better me, a better home and a better world over the next 40 days. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? But a wonderful thing about the Catholic Church is her giving me special time to make reparation for the things I need to fix in my life. The things that will rebuild my relationship with a loving God who wants me, and you, and all of us to simply know, love and serve Him.

Ash Wednesday, which is VERY early this year, is the first day of this 40-day spiritual journey to new birth. In the Magnificat, which I love to read and will TRY to read everyday this Lent, there is a wonderful essay this month by Father William M. Joensen, seminary spiritual director and professor of philosophy at Loras College and chaplain at Clarke College both in Dubuque, Iowa.

Here are some quotes that really struck me as I read his essay, titled "Lent and the Soil of Ourselves":
  • A gritty cross is placed upon our forehead; when mingled with the purple of penance, black becomes us.
  • We are ashen-faced as we realize how much God has bestowed upon us, how readily God waits for us, appeals to us, longing to share the joy of salvation, offering us his Son!
  • ... as we glimpse the specks of dust blessed and applied to our foreheads, we marvel as we realize that God knows each one of the grains of ash, every molecule of which the universe, including ourselves, is made. How much more, then, does God know our situation, the secrets held in the inner recesses of our being.
  • Each of us is entrusted during Lent with the sacred task of going into the soil of ourselves, inviting the Spirit to help us venture into the inmost recesses of our being ...
  • These (lenten) practices are not cosmetic devices meant to attract attention and yet distract us from the work of grace in the space of our souls. They are to help liberate us to look beyond our limits ...

and finally,

  • We heed the appeal to go within our own hearts and allow God to unearth the love lying hidden beneath the detritus of sin. If we do so, our faces, our lives will assume a Christ-like cast. Our way of being will proclaim that the day of salvation has arrived: He is risen indeed!

This essay really "spoke" to me ... I get so caught up in the unimportant and forget to take time to stop, listen and love God fully. This Lent, my 46th Lent, will be more than bellyaching about what I'm missing -- this Lent will be my chance to, as Fr. Joensen puts it:

be more present, patient, prayerful, and positive in our dealings with others ...

My prayer for you, and me, and all I know and love this Lent 2008 is a renewed sense of God in our lives -- a renewed sense that He is always there to welcome us back into the sheepfold.


1 comment:

Michelle Waters said...

I, too, will pray to be more "present, prayerful, patient and positive." Thanks for the great essay and helpful Lenten ponderings.