On this day denoted as ASH Wednesday, Catholics wear ashes on their forehead to signal the start of the season of lent.
The ashes holds a profound meaning. It reminds man that we are but transients in this world and to dust we shall eventually return.
Look at the persons around you. Are they good looking? Are they successful? Then think about them 100 years from now. Where will they be? Surely they will all return to dust. All of us will return to dust. But this should not make us gloomy. If we are children of God, going back to ashes for our physical bodies is the beginning of new life with a new body, the spiritual body in Christ Jesus. But how can we best commemorate the passion of Jesus this lenten season? How can we enter the spirit of lent and be with God in Spirit?
Think of the word ASH: A- Acknowledge, S- Sacrifice, H – Humility.
A – Acknowledge
Acknowledge your situation, that you are here on borrowed time and borrowed body. To dust you shall return.
Acknowledge your sinfulness. Repent. God is merciful to the penitent. He will forgive your sins no matter how grave they are.
Acknowledge that we exist and live because of God and for God. Apart from God we are nothing. Like branches on a tree, when cut off they die. So shall we when we cut ourselves away from God.
S – Sacrifice (acts of penance)
Penance is part of the law of God for man. This is discussed more fully here.
Penance is one way to show our love for God and sorrow for our sins. We can offer small sacrifices each day for 40 days until Good Friday by foregoing some bodily pleasures. This is beneficial for the human soul. By depriving the body of certain pleasures, it learns to thirst for the Higher GOOD.
Here are examples of sacrifices we can do (for those 14 years and above.)
* abstain from eating meat this Ash Wednesday and every friday
* forego 1 meal on Fridays (the sick are exempted)
* avoid facebook or skype chats on certain days this lent
* forego coffee or alchohol
* forego that weekly movie
* do an act of kindness or charitable service
* do some acts of peity. Pray more.
As you do these sacrifices, offer them to God and thank Him for redeeming you from the slavery of sin.
H – Humility
Remember, God lifts up the humble. To be humble is to realize one’s limitations and to accept them. A humble person will be willing to open themselves up to and accept God’s graces being given to them… Humility can overcome the snares of the devil. Read it here.
Before it gets too late, reflect how you are living your life. This season is the best time to do it. Are you living your life as if you will live for a thousand years here on earth? Have you forgotten your eternal destiny?
Let us make this season the opportunity to recharge our life through prayer and penance. Let us remember that we are God’s children. We belong to God.
Thank you God for your church and its ministers through which we are taught how to live our lives closer to you. Help us to live our lives according to your purpose. Please make this season of lent a meaningful season not only for Catholics but for all of mankind. Amen.