An Ash Wednesday Reflection
by Teresa Mary Dolan, MHSH
This reflection, originally posted for Ash Wednesday 2011, garnered much feedback and was a source of inspiration to many people. We are re-posting it here in hopes that others will find in it inspiration for their Lenten journey.
When I was in high school many years ago, I looked forward to Ash Wednesday—the beginning of the penitential season in the Church. It was a time to prepare for the great paschal feast of Easter and the raising of Jesus from the dead. It was like a challenge—40 days of it—to see how we were measuring up as Christians.
“Spring training” was happening all around us, so this time would tell us how we stayed the course, kept the faith, ran the race. However, it did not last long. After the first fervor of a few days or a week, it was much more difficult to awaken in those dark morning hours and go out to Mass, not chew gum or eat candy on the bus to school or hand in homework that I had done myself.
Over the years the journey of life changes so much. Since those high school days, I have discovered that the inner journey in life holds richness incomparable to what we see all around us. To discover the dream and the spirit that gave Jesus that deep sense of mission for his Father’s kingdom and moved him to the summit of Calvary, is to begin to fathom his great love for each of us.
Our Call to Conversion
As we listen to the Scriptures proclaimed in church during these six weeks of Lent, we will hear his teachings, watch his healings and meet his friends. We will experience his courage and faithfulness, his discipline and compassion as he moves closer to his crucifixion and death as a common criminal. Jesus tells us that as we do our fasting and offer service to the poor and homeless, we should not make a big issue of it! We shouldn’t parade it around to be praised, but do it humbly and quietly and “your father in heaven will see your good deeds.”
This year on Ash Wednesday, as we join the community going forward to receive the cross of ashes smudged on our forehead, let us remember that we are all guilty, all are involved in the evil tragedy in our human family that resulted in God becoming one of us, showing us how to live together in peace and saving us to be forever with him in eternal happiness.
Our call to conversion this Lent may be our last preparation for the great homecoming each of us faces when our days on earth are completed. May we know this God intimately when his call comes to us: “Arise, my love, clasp my hand and come!”