Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday Reflections

Following are some words of wisdom that have come my way on this Ash Wednesday of 2009.

These words convey spiritual insights that particularly resonate with me - especially today as I join with Christians from around the world in embarking on the journey of Lent.

A day when people humiliate themselves,
hanging their heads like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes
– that is not the sort of fast that pleases me.

Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to Yahweh?

On the contrary!
This is the sort of fast that pleases me:
Remove the chains of injustice!
Undo the ropes of the yoke!
Let those who are oppressed go free,
and break every yoke you encounter!
Share your bread with those who are hungry,
and shelter homeless poor people.
Clothe those who are naked,
and don’t hide from the needs
of your own flesh and blood.

Do this and your light will shine like the dawn
– and your healing will break forth like lightning!
Your integrity will go before you,
and the glory of Yahweh will be your rearguard.

- Isaiah 58:5-8

We are each a reflection of God, made in God’s image. We each play an instrument in the symphony of God’s creation. If we do not let that reflection shine in the world, if we do not play our instrument for others to hear, a part of God will be hidden forever.

- Frances Dutil, CSJ
(Excerpted from Springtime of the Soul: Lent 2009,
Congregation of St. Joseph.)

We offer you our failures,
we offer you attempts,
the gifts not fully given,
the dreams not fully dreamt.

Give our stumblings direction,
give our visions wider view.

An offering of ashes,
an offering to you.

- Excerpted from “Ashes”
by Tom Conry

* The traditions of Lent come from the season’s origins as a time when the church prepared candidates, or “catechumens,” for their baptism into the Body of Christ. It eventually became a season of preparation not only for catechumens but also for the whole congregation. Examination of conscience, study, prayer, and works of love are disciplines historically associated with Lent. Conversion - literally the “turning around” or reorientation of our lives towards God - is the theme of Lent. Both as individuals and as a community, we look inward and reflect on our readiness to follow Jesus in his journey towards the cross. The forty days of Lent correspond to the forty-day temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and the forty-year journey of Israel from slavery to a new community.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Lenten Journey
“Here I Am!” – the Lenten Response
The Onward Call

No comments: