Publisher: dwinger Volume No. 2 Issue No 10 Date Mar. 5, 03
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” says the priest as he marks the cross on my forehead with ashes.
Today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of the period of Lent in the Liturgical calendar of the Church. Lent is 40 days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving before Easter. I really like the way the calendar of the Church ebbs and flows in a spiritual way to the seasons of the year. The Church has spiritual seasons that coincide with the physical seasons of nature.
I can remember my first Ash Wednesday service. A few years ago Teague had felt a real need to go to an Ash Wednesday Mass. I thought it would be a good for the whole family to go along. I have to admit that I was a little nervous and uncomfortable in the Church. (Always before when I had gone to the Catholic Church, I had been in Dallas where no one knew me, today I was among people who had known me all my life.) The priest talked about prayer and fasting and how they went together, and how we shouldn’t dread or be afraid of this time, but use it to come closer to God. I sat and watched as the congregation went forward to receive ashes marked as a cross on their foreheads. As the people walked back to their seats the look on their faces was both serious and solemn. I could not help but think that Christ was marking them, and this mark was plain for all to see. It seemed very bold to me. (I didn’t know Catholics were bold.) The next year we went again, I became a little braver and went forward and received the mark myself. It can be quite humbling to hear the words that you are “dust and to dust you shall return.” One comes away with the sense of one’s own mortality and that our life is just a short time on this earth.
Today is a universal day of fasting for the Church, and the Pope has asked all to fast for peace. Maybe you too would consider fasting and praying for peace in our world on this day? I am concerned about our world going to war, and I am convinced that fasting and prayer is the most that we can do for our world. Can you imagine if the whole world was fasting and praying for peace what would happen?
And if you feel really bold go to an Ash Wednesday service and get marked by Christ.