On this Ash Wednesday, as we begin Lent, may we repent and live the holy lives for Christ He has called us to live…
That is the paradox: to die to self so that we may live in Christ. What is there new to say about this day that we don’t all already know? It is then a question of sobriety in the face of the encroaching uncertainties surrounding us. Are we ready to do it? Are we ready to face all that we have put off between us and God, who holds our lives in His hand? Are we ready to throw off the weight that easily entangles us, and pursue, whole-souled, the call to live apart from the world in order to be a Light of the world for Christ? Are we ready to pursue Heaven instead of the things of this earth for Christ?
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.Genesis 3:19
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. ” We remember, Lord, what a gift the Resurrection is, that it is undeserved, and what a heavy price you paid to save us from eternal death and give us the joy and hope of everlasting life. Amen.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment:Hebrews 9:27
Memento Mori. All day today the ashes upon our foreheads will remind us and others that one day we all will die. Ash Wednesday begins our preparation for Easter – Lent – the time of fasting and praying as we look forward to the act of salvation – Christ on the Cross and His resurrection to everlasting life.
Let us also be grateful to our departed brother, G. K. Chesterton and his supportive and loving wife, Frances, as he helps us prayerfully reflect each of these 40 days of preparation before the celebration of Easter/Pascha, the commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice at the Cross and the main celebration of the Christian church.
“The fact obviously is that the world will do all that it has ever accused the Church of doing, and do it much worse, and do it on a much larger scale, and do it (which is worst and most important of all) without any standards for a return to sanity or any motives for a movement of repentance. Catholic abuses can be reformed, because there is the admission of a form. Catholic sins can be expiated, because there is a test and a principle of expiation. But where else in the world today is any such test or standard found; or anything except a changing mood…?”
– G. K. Chesterton, The Thing: Why am I a Catholic, 1930
“But if we accept this mystical corporate being, this larger self, we must accept it for good and ill. If we boast of our best, we must repent of our worst.” – G.K. Chesterton, On Paying For Patriotism, The Common Man, 1950 (pub.)
Our Prayer for Ash Wednesday
“Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself, that where I am, there you also may be. And where I go, you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-6) Let us pray. Grant to your faithful, Lord, a spirit generous enough to begin these solemn fasts with proper fervor and to pursue them with steadfast devotion. This we ask of you through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen. Favor this dwelling, Lord, with your presence. Far from it repulse all the wiles of Satan. Your holy angels—let them live here, to keep us in peace. And may your blessing remain always upon us. This we ask of you through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.” (Holy Lent by Eileen O’Callaghan, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1975)
Beloved, may we begin this journey together and arrive at where Christ wants us to go: The Cross. May God bless you.