This year, sadly, we will not have the traditional distribution of ashes. But have you ever wondered why we have ashes on the forehead on the first day of Lent? They may just be ashes, but Fr. Mike points out that what they represent goes far beyond mere dust of the earth. With a simple cross on the forehead, we are recognising that we are far from perfect, but that God loves and redeems us—not despite our brokenness, but in the midst of it. If you want to start off your Lent with a reminder of Ash Wednesday’s deeper meaning, listen to Fr. Mike’s heartfelt words in this video.
Your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:4, 6)
Doesn’t Lent seem like boot camp sometimes? Prayer, fasting, almsgiving—all require sacrifice and effort. Of course, we take up these practices because we want to please God (and maybe lose a few pounds!). But in today’s Gospel, Jesus promises even greater rewards; he says his Father will “repay” us for whatever sacrifices we make (Matthew 6:4, 6). What might that look like?
Let’s start with prayer. God wants you to experience his goodness this Lent, and that happens primarily as you spend time with him in prayer. So try attending daily Mass, Adoration, or a retreat this Lent. Read a new spiritual book or pray through one of the Gospels during the next six weeks. Try to carve out this time to open yourself to God so that he can reveal himself to you.
Fasting can be difficult, but when you fast, you make room for God. Every time you stop yourself from reaching for that dessert, you are emptying yourself of your desires and asking God to fill you up. Every time you take off an evening from your screens, you are giving him the opportunity to speak to you.
And what about almsgiving? Not only does it bring you closer to people in need; it teaches you detachment. The more you can detach yourself from your material possessions to bless other people, the more you discover that you were made for God. You realize that your life and your happiness don’t depend on the things money can buy.
Like any boot camp, Lent can seem long and hard. Even minor sacrifices can wear us down over time. But whatever you decide to do, know that God will graciously “repay” you—with his presence, with his love, and with his grace.
Lord, it feels like we are embarking
on a Lenten journey together, you and I.
The beautiful words in the today’s prayer talk about
the “quiet remembrance of our need for redemption.”
That feels like what I am looking for –
or what you are looking for in me.
I want to remember how much I need you in my life
and how much my life needs redemption.
I want to remember it clearly and
in the background of my day today
and all through Lent.
On this special day, Ash Wednesday,
may my small sacrifices in fasting be a way to clear away
the clutter in my life to see you more clearly.
May my longing for meat and other food,
help me to focus my life today more outside myself.
Let me be aware of those who are in so much more suffering than I am
and may I be aware of them as the brothers and sisters you have placed in my life.
Lord, I know there is darkness
within me and around me.
Bless these days with your Word.
Let your Light shine in the darkness.
Help me long for that Light
until we celebrate it at the Vigil six weeks from now.
And most of all Lord,
help me to honour this day with the ashes
on my forehead.
They help me remember where I have come from
and where I am going.
May I acknowledge to you my sins
and my deep need for your
loving forgiveness and grace.
I pray that this Lenten season
will make me so much more aware
of how much I need your healing in my life.
Fast. No TV or screens today (except for homework}.