Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Words of Wisdom and Comfort

The more our priest speaks to us the more I understand him and grow in love and respect for him. I was less than thrilled when he replaced our beloved pastor, Fr. B, but over the years he has won my heart. His homily today was especially comforting to me. There has been much debate, especially this year (maybe I've just noticed more this year?) about whether or not the ashes are a sign of pride and a source of sin. I have already sent in an email to request a hard copy of his homily (I knew it would be brilliant) and hopefully I will be able to share that soon. I will do my best for now to summarize what he said.

He spoke about how it may seem contradictory to our reading for today that we wear the outward symbol of ashes but that if they serve their unique and helpful purpose then they do not contradict what the Gospel gives to us but rather acts as a catalyst for humility and acknowledgement of who and what we are during this Lenten season. If they cause us to step back and evaluate ourselves then they are not in vain and thus not against the Gospel (in which case there is no need to remove them). If however they are used as a way of boasting or somehow taking on a holier than thou attitude and causing intentional scandal then they are indeed contradictory to the Gospel for today and become a source of sin for us.

Someone also brought up the issue of sharing with others our sacrifices for Lent. Here are my thoughts:

This is just like wearing the ashes. If we take the ashes as simply a habit or something we use to show off and draw attention then they are not truly serving their purpose. If, however, they are used to remind us of our humble beginnings and of our sinful nature then they have served their purpose. If they are used as a catalyst into the sacrifices and personal intraspection of this Lenten season then they have served their purpose and have not been in vain. And again I say it is the same with the sharing of Lenten sacrifices. If we share in order to recognize our need for humility and sacrifice then it is helpful and not in vain. If however we use it to gain pride or respect then what is our sacrifice but sinfulness?

It seems odd to me that so many Catholics are torn between wearing and not wearing the ashes. This is only my personal take on the tradition but I am rooted firmly in my beliefs. Anyone else have an opinion?


Blogger Julie D. said...

I think you have it in a nutshell. After all, God is looking at our hearts and intentions, not at our specific actions ... and only each person can say what those are for themselves.

3/01/2006 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger The Confessionator said...

great post... I love holy priests!

as far as the ashes go, I once had a friend who became a Dominican Sister... she was so crazy and open about her vocation to religious life. Once we went to Ash Wednesday Mass together and for some reason the ashes were particularly thick that year. It looked like someone had drawn black crosses on our foreheads with permanant marker.

Sr. Mary Bethany said, "this giant cross on my forehead says to the world, "I am a big sinner and I need Jesus!" So I don't think there's anything proud about it at all.

3/01/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger AC said...

I see the cross of ashes as a sign to the world that i am not perfect. Its also a silent witness to the fact that I am a christian that i try to be a good person but i fail at times but Jesus is able to save me!

3/01/2006 10:59:00 PM  

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