Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday





TODAY IS ASH WEDNESDAY. Preachers will talk about ashes as a sign of our repentance. Some preachers will just take it for granted that we know what repentance means. For sure it means more than being sorry for my sins. Repentance has nothing really to do with giving up stuff for forty days. That's a tired old religious cliche.

Lent is supposed to expand my mind and heart ~ make it more Christ-ly. So I might think of more than just the ashes on my own forehead today. There's...

  • the Jordanian pilot recently immolated...
  • the city of Dresden, a single flame...
  • the Twin Towers reduced to ash September 11, 2001...
  • the ground around Auschwitz now ash and granulated bone...
  • the metaphorical ashes of lives reduced to nothing by   poverty...
  • and the ashes of children's lives devastated by adult  sin...
  • the ash mountains where mining has destroyed the  environment...
  • the jungles that have been reduced to ash ~ slash and burn      agriculture it's called...
  • the ash of commercial flights shot down by wasted soldiers...
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki left in ashes...

When I was a boy I served the Latin Requiem Mass which had a sequence (a sung poem prayer) called the Dies Irae. The first verse:

Day of wrath, O day of mourning
see fulfilled the prophet's warning,
heaven and earth in ashes burning.

The Church dropped this hymn in the 1960's because it was thought by liturgists to be too scary and not Easter-y enough. I find it to be sobering. In thinking about our country, the word that comes to mind is malaise: a condition or unfocused feeling of general bodily weakness or discomfort. 

Ash Wednesday's ashes invite us to a Lenten awakening, out of the malaise that afflicts us. 


5 comments:

  1. I trust in you.Father that you will succeed in waking us from our spiritual slumber. We need thus call to rise up and take action. Let us be unified in our sobering and train our thoughts on taking steps towards aiding the helpless in any way that we can.

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  2. Pope Francis warns about indifference. I pray to put order in my life during this time of grace. These thoughts you give us help us to get serious about the journey ahead. Grateful.

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  3. I wish the true Requiem Mass would become more widespread.

    I get tired of the "touchy-feely" and of the "artsy-craftsy."

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  4. I will wear my ashes as a rememberance of all these things. And as a reminder to myself that we must do more for the children of the world. I will take this Lenten journey with you in the hopes that a difference will be made.

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