Today is Wednesday. Today is Ash Wednesday. Today is also my parent’s wedding anniversary. I’m usually glad for Wednesday to arrive because it’s a clear indication that we are nearing the weekend. Sometimes it’s called Hump Day, for those needing to get over the hump … to be on the downward slide toward Friday. Wednesday is a booster day to push us through the work week.
Ash Wednesday is a symbol of my deep-rooted faith. It is a day when I celebrate Mass, receive the mark of ashes upon my forehead, and also reminds me that I am to return to ashes upon my death. “From ashes we came and to ashes so shall we return”. The smudged cross of charcoal is an outward sign to any who see it that I admit to being a sinner and that the Season of Lent has arrived. This is an important time for me and other Christians around the world. During this time we will focus on what it means to be a follower of Christ. It is a time when we deny ourselves some of those things we love to eat, do, or waste time thinking about. Why I do this is pretty cool.
Over the next forty days I will control cravings or longings for the foods I have decided to give up. I will avoid watching, reading about or viewing anything that might also be on my list of things I have decided to forego. Instead of being unhappy about my choices I shall not wear the expression of gloom, no one will know I am fasting. On Fridays I will allow myself fish, not seafood, which is as grand as meat or poultry. I will remember the values I was taught as a child and spend time meditating and praying. Why pray?
I pray because it is a way to talk to God, from whom all good things come. In the quiet I am in a special place and I sometimes hear His voice. That happens when we become quiet and are very thankful. I pray because I can focus on the Kingdom of Heaven. I examine my mind and get back on track. I do receive emails of the Daily Word and it is a tremendous help to me in my daily life. It teaches me to train my mind on the possibilities and who I AM, rather than intense prayer. When I pray I become more than what others see. At once, I am transformed and linked with the oneness of our Creator.
Forty days and forty nights of contemplation, cleaning out, organization of myself, my thoughts, my household and my heart. I examine who I have become and why I do things. I look for ways to improve my thinking and ask myself hard questions. I cannot hide from my questions. I must be frank and honest. Little sacrifices, tithing, donating of money or time, prayer, confession and attending Mass, are all important aspects of my personal Lenten Season. It is a personal matter and anyone who wants to do the same can join in to become closer to this religious heritage. I do not seek to change or improve anyone other than myself.
Lenten Season is also important because we focus more on the journey of Jesus, the Holy Family, the way Jesus chose the apostles, His wonderful teachings and many of the miracles He performed. It is a time to remember what sacrifice Jesus made for us. He taught us about love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemy, too. Jesus taught in parables and was willing to pay the ultimate price of dying on a cross for our salvation and for our sins. Yes, I have a lot to contemplate and consider. The most important will be during Holy Week, Passover, Good Friday and Easter. I feel blessed to have these things to guide me for without them, I would be lost and have no spiritual direction.
Today marks the wedding day of my late parents. March 9th. It’s a day written in my heart. These two beautiful people had a family and I, their youngest, love them so very much. Theirs is a good long story that I will share another day. Just know they are the two people I owe everything to, for giving me a life worth living, and teaching me to love God.