25 February 2009

Ash Wednesday, Lent 2009

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris

We used to use this quotation during the imposition of ashes. Today we tend to use, "Turn from your sin and be faithful to the Gospel." Whichever one we prefer, today is a sobering day with readings which stop us in midstride from our usual ill and unconsidered comings and goings, and ask us who we really are and more, who will we be? It is the perfect way to begin a prolonged period of introspection and recommitment --- both of which are the focus of Lent.

Lent is the period where we regain perspective and commit ourselves to reality from the long-view of someone who knows we are usually too short-sighted and too caught up in all that distracts us from seeing or loving properly. It is a holy season and a genuine gift, because it gives us the graced space and time to do that which our world does not ordinarily provide: the space and time to examine our hearts and lives, the space and time to consider and begin to attend to what still cripples us as human beings, what prevents us from loving as we ought and as we are called by God to do; the space and time to listen anew and with minds and hearts made for this listening and, with the grace of God, to decide to change, to be better and truer persons --- not just richer or more successful, better educated or better employed or whatever is usually compelling to us --- but better and truer human beings.

The value of any gift of such time is usually inestimable, but the gift of this time and space, this season of introspection and recommitment, is more intensely and profoundly so. My own prayer is that we will each receive it fully and use it well.