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Reflections on Lent…

When does Lent Start?

We celebrate the beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday on February 14th.

Lent is a time of prayer and fasting as we prepare to celebrate Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Church’s biggest celebration in the liturgical year. “You are dust, and to dust you shall return”. It is one of the most ancient phrases of Scripture, coming right out of the early chapters of Genesis. As we are about to be reminded by our tradition, it forms the central theme of what we’re about on Ash Wednesday.

We’re being reminded of our mortality and our need for penitence. But there’s another theme at work deep within this sentence that we might do well to ponder as we enter the period of self-examination and renewal we call Lent. Part of our journey as people of God in this season is about re-energizing our spirituality, setting aside time to be with the divine light in our lives and to truly stop for a moment and allow it to do some of its transformational work in us. To re-emphasise, we need to truly stop, perhaps two of the hardest words to hear in our fast-paced always-in-motion culture today.

On a day like Ash Wednesday, it seems appropriate to pause and take a hard, honest look at what drives us.

Lent is a time for authentic conversion and for coming to know Christ as the bringer of justice. Our journey is towards him. Lent is a time of many blessings; in fasting, in prayer and almsgiving, in self examination, confession, purification and healing, in contrition, conversion and repentance.

Lent then is a wonderful opportunity to know anew and afresh they mystery and grace of God revealed in Christ Jesus. This mystery, kept hidden but now fully revealed in Jesus who is God’s Mercy, God’s Love and God’s Justice.

Let us use this Lent well. Let us experience God’s gift of loving justice in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and celebrate its fruit in Easter Eucharist.

Ash Wednesday

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are blessed with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense.

While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

Making the Most of 40 Days

We live lives of tortured complexity. Inside each of us there is both a saint and a sinner. Our hearts are a murky cauldron of grace and sin, angels and demons. Always, it seems, we are torn in a way that leaves us feeling unsure, guilty, and tense. The 40 days of Lent gives us the opportunity, like Jesus, to enter the desert.

To go into the desert means to stare our inner chaos in the face. What demons live inside this chaos? They maybe the demons of bitterness, anger, jealousy, lust, deceit, addiction, hatred, distrust, selfishness etc. All these demons are inside every one of us. To stare them in the face is to enter the desert. A scary thing? Yes, but the scriptures assure us that if we muster the courage to face them, God will send angels to minister to us.

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent

“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee.

…“I asked that the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy”…

…”For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favourable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practising the works of mercy.”…

Full Text

A Prayer for Lent (Walter Brueggeman)

Marked by Ashes

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .

This day — a gift from you.

This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.

This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.

This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home

halfway back to committees and memos,

halfway back to calls and appointments,

halfway on to next Sunday,

halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,

half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,

but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —

we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:

of failed hope and broken promises,

of forgotten children and frightened women,

we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;

we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with

some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes

anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —

you Easter parade of newness.

Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,

Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;

Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.

Come here and Easter our Wednesday with

mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

Let us seize this opportunity to enter the desert, to trust in the Lord, to overcome our demons.

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