February 18, 2015

Ashes to Ashes and Stones to Soup

I can't help but love Ash Wednesday services.  They always remind me of when I first realized the fullness that Catholicism has to offer.  At the same time as people are waiting to receive ashes and the Eucharist, there are always people in the back of church waiting for reconciliation through confession.  It is, in every respects, a reminder that we receive salvation through Christ in the forgiveness of sins and the grace of the sacraments.  The ashes spread across the forehead always remind me of my mortality in this world and my eternal rest in God's kingdom; spread across the same place as where I received the confirmation chrism oil when I entered the Church two years ago.  As much as I love the Easter Rites and the Christmas Celebration, I think it's Ash Wednesday that I love the most.

This year, I am gifted with the ability to spend the entire day at my parish.  Having taken over coordination for RCIA, I'm in charge of distributing our traditional Stone Soup meal after masses.  This has given me time in between to spend in quiet reflection of mass, in reading scripture, and in prayer.  I have had plenty of time for prayer today too!  In fact, even though I had decided upon spending time in prayer as part of Lent, I have found so many opportunities to do it which I have completely overlooked, that it's almost embarrassing to admit I tend to regulate myself to structured times during the day.

After all the things I came to discover last year during Lent, I'm looking forward to this year with renewed vigor.  I think we prefer not to be uncomfortable, but we forget that discomfort and trials give way to more growth than comfort and accommodation.  I think we also prefer not to participate in acts of self-denial as a natural tendency in our culture to equate restraint with a lack of freedom.  I wish I could remember these things more often when it isn't just this time of the year.

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