Be Converted To Me

Vanitas Still Life, by Pieter Claesz

A most blessed Ash Wednesday to all! Today is a day of obligatory fasting and abstinence and marks the beginning of our 40-day trek through the season of Lent. The ashes we receive today and the words of the priest as he crosses our foreheads with them are a reminder of our mortality and the brevity of our earthly life, the relatively small amount of time we have to prepare ourselves for the life to come. The Church gives us the Lenten season each year to bring us back to this reality and to refocus our lives on what is spiritual.

Receiving ashes at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary

Christ, of course, never asks us to do anything He did not do before us; the 40 days of Lent recall His own 40-day preparation for His public ministry, when “the Spirit led Him into the desert.” Being God, He had no need of such things, but He desired to illustrate for us the value of fasting, penance and prayer in drawing closer to God, freeing ourselves from earthly attachments, and defeating the devil when he arrives with his temptations. And Christ moreover always desired to identify Himself with us, to live our life, to suffer with us, to be one with us, even to die a mortal death for us, and it is the anniversary of His death on the Cross on Good Friday that is the summit of our Lenten journey.

Let us prepare then well for it, walking willingly with Christ in the desert and upon His Via Dolorosa, and ask Him to help us make the most of this time of Lent. +

Thus saith the Lord: Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil.

– Joel 2:12-13, from the Epistle for Ash Wednesday

February 26, 2020