Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

Ashes

Once while I was a student at Boston College, I attended Ash Wednesday noon Mass at St. Mary’s Chapel. During my time at BC, the Wednesday noon Mass was a special one—we would be graced with an awesome homily by none other than Fr. Michael Himes, beloved among nearly all BC students. With a perfect blend of wit and profundity, Fr. Himes would have you laughing and pondering the meaning of your life in a five minute homily!

A few years ago on Ash Wednesday, he began his homily by explaining that Ash Wednesday is the perfect example of how we as human beings get everything wrong.  In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus tell his followers:

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

But, as Fr. Himes pointed out, on Ash Wednesday, we go to Mass, receive a very obvious sign of ashes on our foreheads, and march around for the rest of the day showing people that we are Catholic! We are not, in any way, “praying in secret.” What are we thinking?

Yet we know that these ashes are an outward sign of our repentance, our humility, and our brokenness.  It is an outward sign of an inward desire to be more Christ-like. It is the perfect way to begin this season of Lent, to question what changes we need to make in our lives to grow closer to God.  And perhaps the outward sign of ashes may prompt others to think about their own lives, their own spirituality, their own brokenness.

What are your Lenten plans? How will you try to grow closer to God during this season of repentance?

Bob Rice

Catholic speaker, musician, author, teacher

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