And so it is that we find ourselves here at the start of a new Lenten Season. Receiving our ashes today, we are reminded that it is into a time of prayer and fasting that we go. Today as we receive, what once was alive and now is ash, we are reminded also that the Lord, in his goodness, created us and holds us in existence. So great was his love for us that, before bringing us into being, he created and prepared with great detail and care this earth in all its wonders to feed and sustain us, but also to evoke awe and wonder in our hearts, to lift our souls toward the eternal home for which they were created. In great wisdom does the Church remind us of this love, leading up to Lent, with plentiful daily Mass readings from Genesis recounting the creation story.
It is with this great love in mind that we follow, in full trust, the one who loves us into the desert for these 40 days. Lent is a season in which we are called to prayer, fasting and alms giving. In other words, it is a season in which we are called to grow in likeness to our Divine Savior by setting aside more time to speak with him, forming good and holy habits and giving to those in need with our time and/or money.
Whether we’ve already decided what forms these three calls will take during our Lenten season or not, perhaps today we can spend some time in prayer asking the Lord to show us what form of prayer, fasting and alms giving will most lead us to him this Lent. Giving up chocolate is great…but only if through that sacrifice we are brought to Christ. May we pray over the areas in our lives where we seem to forget the Lord and weed out those distractions. For example, if you find you don’t have enough time in the day to have some silent prayer time with the Lord, maybe consider giving up music in your car for Lent and use that time instead to speak with your Creator or to ponder his love for you. Whatever you choose, 40 days from now when we mourn the unimaginable sacrifice of Christ for our sake and then celebrate the gift and the glory of our salvation, may we be a people changed by the love of God.