I don’t know about you, but last Lent was one I won’t forget. We experienced most of those forty days in a virtual lockdown due to pandemic. Those were scary and uncertain times, and although the pandemic still rages throughout the world, there’s less uncertainty thanks to more effective treatments, vaccines, and being careful.
Today, the first day of the penitential season of Lent, is Ash Wednesday. As with most traditions, the distribution of ashes will be different this year. Instead of being marked with ashes on our forehead, a visible sign to those around us that we are Christians who want to be a sign to the world that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), ashes will be sprinkled on the tops of our heads. The ashes remind the world that authentically living the Christian faith comes with difficulties and trials, especially in these times. With this new way of distributing them, the ashes will not be as visible as they have been in the past. In fact, most people will not see them. But we will know they are there. As with many things since the pandemic came upon us, we have lived our faith more privately, interiorly. I think this is a beautiful thing, since now we have more time to be with the Lord, just the two of us. Of course, we should all have the deep desire to return to ongoing participation of the sacramental life, especially Eucharist and Reconciliation, and many of us have done just that, following all the necessary precautions. One day soon, please God, the limits currently in place will be a distant memory and our faith life will get back to normalcy.
In case you are looking for help to experience a rich and holy Lent, here are some web resources:
I pray that each person reading this post experiences and savors all that the Lord wants to give them throughout this holy season. Let’s remember to pray for each other, for the Church, and for the world over the next forty days. As my old friend and pastor used to say often, “prayer changes things.” Amen to that!