“Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return”
As a practicing Roman Catholic, I believe that is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
That season begins today. God’s divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, we seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.
You may feel the distribution of ashes is an archaic ceremony of ages past, that the role of the Catholic Church has been corrupted, that is no longer relevant. To each their own.
Redemption, what does it mean? I believe that Jesus gave us all redemption when he chose to accept his fate and suffer the humiliation, pain and suffering of his cruxification.
Opportunity knocks but we have to open the door and invite it in. Not everyone will choose to accept the redeeming love of God and its invitation to salvation. You see redemption and salvation are not the same thing.
Pope Francis recently spoke about the difference when he said, ““The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”
Salvation is an individual choice, a choice that we each must make. It is a gift that we can accept or reject even up to our death bed.
Tonight, I will attend Ash Wednesday mass at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist at 7:00 p.m. I wish I had been able to get to the noon mass because now I have to miss the presentation on diaries from Newfoundland WW1 soldiers taking place at The Rooms tonight. A small sacrifice.
Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice. The spirit lives on, it needs to be nourished.
The ashes that the Bishop will place on my forehead are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him for salvation with truly repentant hearts.