Living Lent

Lent is at the door!

We seem to have barely finished celebrating Christmas and yet here we are on the threshold of Lent and so of Easter.  Ash Wednesday is on Wednesday, 2 March.

Ash Wednesday is a signal for us.  It is there to stop us in our tracks and to make us gather ourselves together both interiorly and personally and as a community of faith.

The day has rich symbolism to it. It is not normal to be marked with ashes and to wear them on our foreheads all day.  It is one of the unusual things that we do, and there are always reasons behind the unusual things that we do.  It is a symbol which reaches back into the old testament where it acted as a sign of turning again to God and so of turning away from the things which are in competition with God in our lives.  What things have a greater grip on us than God has?

Ashes have had the life driven out of them; they are what is left when life has been driven out of things.  After a bush fire which entails so much destruction of life, we wait for the signs of life to emerge and they do!  The green shoots gradually emerge and we see life returning.

We wear ashes in that spirit.  We acknowledge that without God, we are like ashes – lifeless things.  But we do this in the knowledge that God is always at work in us and around us and that by focusing more intently on God during Lent, the green shoots of life will rise within us also.  By creating more space in our lives during Lent, we give the ever-present influence of God a chance to produce new life in us. 

Christ’s call to us to be converted is a call to go beyond ourselves and our present way of seeing things and of living.  The three traditional activities of Lent are all about going beyond ourselves.  Prayer takes our time and gives it over to God; in prayer we reach out beyond ourselves to God.  Charity or sharing with others is taking what is ours and which we could use for ourselves and using it for others; we go beyond our own wants and needs in such giving.  And fasting or self-discipline is a way of taming those desires and wants and needs within us to enable us to go beyond ourselves to others and to God.

We need the time and opportunity to ponder and sort out just what is the best way for us to concentrate on Lent.  

During all of Lent we move towards the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection in which he goes so beyond himself as to give himself totally for us all and what arises from that utter self-giving is his resurrection into new life.  That new life which will also be ours.

By Fr Frank O’Loughlin


Easter Season


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Ray King

"What things have a greater grip on us than God has?" What a great way to look at Lenten reflection. Thank you Father Frank for this great opening salvo in preparation for Lent.

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