Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Remember That You Are Dust . . .

Each year, Catholics start the Lent Season with “Ash Wednesday”. During that time, the Catholic Liturgy invites believers to begin a time of action and reflexion on our lives: reflexion on its meaning, its origin, its missions, and its final destiny.

It is, therefore, a “heavy” time for “metanoia,” that is “the conversion” which --in theology and Christian life-- means the adaptation of our being, existence and actions to the life of Jesus Christ himself: An adaptation to his Gospel, to his values, to his convictions, and to his proposals for life. This proposal invites us to spend our lives in service of the Gospel --in other words, to spend it in the service to others, especially the ones in greatest need-- and in that way obtain eternal life, a happy life, a full life.

Lent, therefore, becomes a biblical, pastoral, liturgical and existential walk for the believer as a person and for the Christian community in general. This walk begins in ashes and ends with the night of lights, the night of fire and light: the holy night of Easter, the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lent symbolizes, shows us, and reminds us of one “step”, one joy, and one route to follow permanently: the walk from nothing to existence, from darkness to light, from death to life, from the insignificant to an abundant life in God through His Son Jesus Christ. To convert ourselves means to destroy, to leave behind, to burn, to make into ashes the “old man”, the man-without-Christ and to cover ourselves with the “new” man, the man-in-the-spirit, who is a new fire in the world.

On Ash Wednesday, while the Minister puts ashes on the forehead of the penitents, he says alternatively, the following two expressions: “Repent and believe the Good News” and/or “Remember that you are dust and to the dust you shall return.” This act and these words express very adequately our nature, our absolute dependency from God, our pilgrimage toward a definite homeland, our transitory existence.

Lent, and Ash Wednesday in particular, are liturgical times which invite us to turn our sight and life towards God and towards the principles of the Gospel. Therefore, if Lent is a time for conversion, for improving the process of personal and communitarian humanization, then Lent coincides with the life itself of all believers; it coincides with the existence and the mission of all the Church; and it coincides with the vocation of the entire human community.

Lent is an invitation to change that which we must change, as we search for a way to be better and happier. It is an invitation to construct, instead of destroy; to search and return to a way of life that is more just, more united, and more human. Lent is a call to search diligently for new ways to be and to make a new Church while being better and more authentic disciples of the “Crucified and Resurrected.”

We go through the liturgical Season of Lent –the same as through our own existence—with our sight focused on the Easter Sunday and on the final celebration in God: a celebration of abundant life which opposes all discrimination or degradation of the human being or of its dignity. It opposes all forms of abuse and violence; all forms of lying, of evil and of death; all forms of corruption and division; all forms of oppression and marginalization. All of this because Easter, as the point of arrival, the summit and peak, and the goal of Lent, is absolute newness of life, the abundant life which God offers us, and to which he invites us in this time and always.