Ash Wednesday

Readings: Jl 2: 12-18 // Ps 51: 3-6a, 12-14, 17 // 2 Cor 5: 20-6:2 //Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

On considering this first day of Lent, my initial response was a bit depressing. It reminded me of the Church I grew up in. It seemed that it was constantly reminding us of our inadequacies, sinfulness and unworthiness. During the liturgical season of Lent those themes were even more pronounced. Emphasis on what was wrong with the human condition often overshadowed what was right and good and positive. However, we now see with new eyes. While informing us about the opportunities to repent and reform, the readings for Ash Wednesday offer sage advice on how to pray, fast and give alms in meaningful and authentic ways.

Upon  careful reflection, we recognize that an acknowledgement of our faults and shortcomings can be a positive experience that prepares us to accept an invitation to return to the Lord with our whole hearts and without distractions; to trust His understanding and compassion; “For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness.” This is the God that I know and the One who empowers us to ignite the goodness in each of us to become better people and serve one another.

This should not be a season of remorse. It should be the inspiration and impetus for simple acts of charity, a time to mend fences, a time to renew prayer life and a time to be joyful. It is a time to remember that every day is a gift. It is a time to anticipate Easter, rebirth of the trees, the flowers and ourselves. If in fact, as the second reading (Cor 5:20-6:2) teaches, “We are ambassadors for Christ” then indeed “Now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation.” Let us make Lent a joy filled season.

Louise Fitzpatrick
College of Nursing