Yesterday, I was chatting it up with the CVS store clerk as I waited for the pharmacist. I remarked about her truly cute haircut and bemoaned my own overly gray “situation”. The sweet young gal said “Nobody will even notice your bad hair day because we are all thinking about your dirty forehead.”
I began to giggle at her honesty and I said, “Ashes?” She truly looked at me like I needed to put down the crack pipe. It was then I explained, “It’s Ash Wednesday. Today’s the start of Lent. It’s a Catholic thing.”
It wasn’t the most impressive evangelization effort, that’s for sure.
We find ourselves in the midst of those 40 days which began with us each being literally marked as sinners. To dust we shall return. If that seems a wee bit morbid, well, I think that’s the point.
Shouldn’t we be interiorly restless as it relates to the fundamental question of sin—especially as it speaks to eternity? How likely are we to use our freedom to choose God if our minds are focused on the question of our own salvation?
“Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (Mt. 7:13)
Lent is an excellent time to reflect on the reality of our own mortality and ask to be filled plentifully with grace, loving Him enough to repent for sins large and small.
Bishop Fulton Sheen said “Conscience tells us when we do wrong so we feel on the inside as if we have broken a bone. The bone hurts because it is not where it ought to be.”
In this increasingly secular world, it’s easy to forget about salvation and focus on what is of this earth, what is finite. During Lent, the Church wisely suggests we take a pause from those things which cause us to drown out that voice of God within.
I know what some of them are for me and what I am going to work on. What about you?
“Seek eagerly after love. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts.” (1 Cor 14:1)
I move that we all embrace the austerities of Lent, find our way to a confessional, and pray for properly formed consciences, through which (with our cooperation) the Holy Spirit will encourage us after each mistake to turn towards our God and walk in His light once more.
Oh, and don’t forget to use some of that prayer time to ask the Holy Spirit to be powerfully present for our Cardinals too as they choose our new Pope!