Greetings my dear friends,
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness...” Luke 4:1-2
With this passage from Saint Luke, our Lenten journey has begun. In fact, I am writing this message on Ash Wednesday, so how appropriate as we begin our own forty-day journey into the desert.
The resource that I am using as we begin Lent is from Our Sunday Visitor. It is a pamphlet that is titled, “How to Observe Lent as a Catholic.” Hopefully, since we have arrived at Ash Wednesday, we already know what we are going to do to make this a meaningful season. Lent has a beautiful history and that is what I am going to share in these messages.
“Lent begins with ashes – a traditional sign of mourning, grieving, and repentance for both Jews and Christians (Isaiah 58:5; Matt. 11:21).” Since our focus is on the cross, we put the ashes on the foreheads in the shape of a cross. It is a good witness and a good way to evangelize, especially when people tell us we have dirt on our forehead.
“One of the signs of a penitent was ashes or dirt on the person’s head, often at the beginning of their penance. By the Middle Ages, the practice became a more general Lenten tradition for all Christians, focused on the beginning of Lent. It became a way for Christians to publicly mark their sorrow for sin and to symbolically ready themselves to cast that sin away and open themselves to God during the weeks to come.”
In receiving the ashes, “we’re reminded of who we are: creatures in need of God’s love and forgiveness.” May God richly bless us as we begin this journey together.