Getting your Lent off to a Great Start
Ash Wednesday Reflection
“Remember you are dust and unto dust you will return.”
Those are the words that the minister tells the penitent when they come forward to receive an imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. These are also the same words that God tells to Adam after the fall. As we enter into the Lenten season and prepare our hearts for the celebration of Easter, we must constantly keep this image in front of us. Therefore, this reflection will answer a few questions as to the significance that ashes play in preparing our hearts.
First off, what do the ashes signify? Well when we go back to the beginning of scripture (Genesis 2:7), we read that God created Adam from the dust of the earth. He even formed him in His own divine image and likeness. However, very soon after we see the fall of Adam and Eve. God then tells Adam that suffering will be a part of his life until he returns to the dust from which he was created (Genesis 3:19). Thus, the ashes first signify our mortality. The reality that this life may be filled with toil and struggle, but that one day it will end and our mortal bodies will turn back to the dust of the earth.
Second, why is the reception of ashes important? This question springs off the previous. Since this earthly life is passing away (1 John 2:17), we are reminded that we are called to unite our lives more closely to our Lord. If this world is passing away, there must be a sense of urgency in our hearts. We can’t sit back and wait for God to come. We have to prepare the way for the Lord. The whole Lenten season prepares us for the single greatest celebration of the Church, the culmination of the Paschal Mystery, which is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord.
What do the ashes call us to? Well, if the world is passing away, so are the things of this world. We enter into the Lenten season with the realization that in the same way that we will one day come to the end of our earthly life, so the material things of this world are also passing away. The ashes call us to examine our lives more deeply to come to realize what are those material things of this passing world that are coming between us and a deeper relationship with Christ. Thus, the Church gives us the threefold calling of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving to assist us in separating ourselves from attachment to this world. Do we find ourselves losing hope at times (despair) or relying too much on our own power to get through this life (pride)? Well, then prayer must have a bigger role in our lives. Do we find ourselves attached to our technology or to some sins of the flesh? Well, then fasting must have a bigger role in our lives. Do we find ourselves struggling to sacrifice for others? Well, then almsgiving must have a bigger role in our lives.
My brothers and sisters, Lent is a penitential season in which the Church journeys with you on your path the heaven. We all struggle with attachments to things of this world. However, we can never let those come between us and a God who loves us. I encourage us all to enter into this Lenten season with a real sense of urgency, realizing that our world is passing away, and to heed the call to conversion. Because Christ’s Death and Resurrection teach us that, “true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement – however beneficial it may be – such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love” (CCC 1723). God loves each of us more than we could ever imagine. Let us remove anything from our hearts that comes between us and that great love.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Matthew Johnston
Lenten Schedule & Resources
Daily Lenten Reflections from Bishop Robert Barron
Notre Dame Seminary is offering a year-long "Eucharist Lecture Series" during 2021 for the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Year of the Eucharist! The
second presentation is entitled “The Eucharist in Sacred Scripture” and will be offered by Dr. Nathan Mastnjak, Professor of Sacred Scripture at Notre Dame Seminary. This event will take place on
Wednesday, February 17th, 2021
, with Eucharistic Adoration beginning at 5:30 PM followed by a lecture and Q&A from 6:00- 7:00 PM.
This event is FREE and open to the public. You can attend either in person (socially distanced) or virtually, but space is limited, so make sure to RSVP. Virtual attendees will receive streaming information via email on the day of the event. Registration for this event will close on Wednesday, February 17th at 5:00 PM.
Please pray for our Confirmation candidates who will be on retreat Saturday, February 27. Pray that they will be open to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
St Benilde Church
on Wednesday, February 17 at 8:00AM