"Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return"
These words and the ashes on the forehead remind us of our mortality, the dust from which we are made according to Genesis.
Ashes also call us to repentance, to sorrow, to display a spirit of humility and sacrifice that is carried throughout the Lenten season and demonstrated by our prayer, fasting and works of charity. But the ashes are only an outward sign of our inward disposition.
In the Mass reading from the prophet Joel the Lord calls us to 'rend our hearts and not our garments'. True conversion can only come from the heart
Today Ash Wednesday happens to fall on Valentine's day. And as I visited the card store I joined a cadre of men most of whom had painful expressions on their face while surreptitiously glancing at what the others were choosing. How could a demonstration of love be so uncomfortable for so many? I wondered where is the heart in all this?
Lent calls us to rediscover the heart and to turn away from the flesh. "Return to me with all your heart says the Lord". We have a heart that strays unfaithfully yet it is the one that God still desires!
So let us move to rediscover our heart by returning to the heart of God who loved us into being and who sustains us in that love.
Devote this Lent with:
Prayer - love talk with God
Fasting - denial of self
Charity - kindness to others
And so we begin our journey. Happy Valentine's day/Happy Ash Wednesday.