Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spirituality: "Ashes" by Bishop Emil A. Wcela

Across our street is a pile of charred wood, the sad remains of a home, empty for years, finally torched by vandals. Only the ashes of the walls that once sheltered a family and their hopes and dreams recall the people who once lived there. When they are carted away, even this silent memorial will be no more.

[On Wednesday], we [will] receive ashes on our foreheads. These burned remnants of the branches of last Palm Sunday are gritty witness to the crushed hopes and dreams of another time when “Hosanna!” turned to “Crucify him!”

However, our ashes are not the marks of a past ruined and forgotten. Surely, they acknowledge our humanity and sinfulness. We are mortal and will one day die. But what moves us to walk up the aisle is not despair. We believe that the Son of God loves us, has shared all that we are, except our sinfulness, and gives us hope.

Each year, our Church calls us to the three great actions of Lent. Pray – acknowledge that God is the center of our lives. Fast – trust that, with God’s help, we can work to control the disorder of mind and body that pulls us away from him. Help others – show that we are members of a living body in which each part supports the other.

Ashes. Not just a sign that we are mortal and sinful, but witness to what we can be through the one who transformed the ashes of Good Friday into the new life of Easter Sunday.


Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Rockville Centre (NY)

Source: Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, February 2013, page 144.