"We read in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the
men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten Fast." (cf NewAdvent)
As a young Catholic child before I left the Church, we always received ashes on Ash Wednesday. Unfortunately, the beautiful symbolism was lost on my young heart. When I received ashes again for the first time almost 4 years ago, I was ready to finally understand and receive the blessing that this sacramental practice can give.
There's nothing magical about having ashes placed on one's forehead in the sign of the cross. However, there is much grace in a heart that is open and docile to the work of God by humbly submitting to this. These ashes remind me that I am a sinner saved by Christ and symbolize my inward disposition to fast, pray and repent during this season of fasting as our forefathers in the Early Church did.
Who was I that I should have excluded myself from such a beautiful and ancient way of drawing closer to Jesus? Did I think I had arrived and no longer needed repentance? Was it "All under the Blood" and there was no need for me to fast and pray and contemplate how my sins caused his bruises? What was I thinking? I don't know, but now I am so thankful to be able to avail myself of these opportunities for growth in grace.
Labels: Devotional Practices