Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning point of the Lenten season. The ashes that we receive today are a reminder of our own mortality, that our time here on earth is short and we must look to the state of our souls while we still have the opportunity to do so. Knowing our human weakness and our extraordinary powers of procrastination, the Church in her wisdom gives us the forty days of Lent every year as a unique opportunity to assiduously separate ourselves from earthly attachments through penance, and to actively attach ourselves to heavenly things through added spiritual practices – perhaps daily Mass, a regimen of spiritual reading or some charitable works. Check with your local parish to see their schedule of Lenten devotions, which often include a parish mission or perhaps weekly Stations of the Cross on Fridays.
Today and Good Friday are days of obligatory fast and abstinence, and each Friday of Lent is an obligatory day of abstinence. Let us not view the next six weeks with trepidation, but rather let us embark upon this holy season with the same diligence and confidence reflected in the prayer the priest says after the distribution of the ashes:
Grant us, O Lord, to take up our duty as soldiers of Christ by holy fasting that we, who are to do battle with the evil spirits, may be protected by the help of self-restraint.
March 6, 2019