Next Wednesday we begin our celebration of Lent. While the world will be celebrating the rather spurious St Valentine’s Day we will be told of our fate loud and clear in both word and action: ‘Dust you are unto dust you shall return’ will be the stark message as our heads are sprinkled with ashes. No purely human organisation or individual ever tells us this obvious truth in cold, clear terms. The Church alone has courage to do so.
But the Church is able to proclaim this seemingly hopeless message because, on the contrary, She knows our true destination and calling. We begin Lent as a journey to Easter. We put on ashes to follow Christ to his death – and resurrection. We may go down into the dust but we shall rise again from it.
Our Lenten observance is a time for us to refocus on what really matters. We undertake fasting, prayer and almsgiving, not because we want to punish ourselves but because we want to be liberated from the things that bind us. We give things up to take on a fuller understanding of what it is to be human.
We begin our journey with the stark truth but we undertake it because we know the glory to which we are called. P.D.