Today is Ash Wednesday. That means several things. It is the beginning of the new Lenten season. It is a day of fast and abstinence from meat. It is not a holy day of obligation, but it is a wonderful day to participate in the mass and receive ashes on our forehead. These ashes are a remembrance of our own mortality. It is also a witness of our faith and an opportunity to be missionaries for others. It offers us an opportunity to explain our faith, discuss the purpose of the ashes, and bring attention to the season of Lent.
Life is short. Time flies. We don’t know the time or the hour of our death, but we do know that our earthly life will not be eternal. We will die. Once we accept and understand this fact, we should think about how we should live our lives so that we will have eternal life in heaven. This requires us to constantly work on improving ourselves, seeking forgiveness for our sins, and living our lives as if today is our last. This does not mean we should go jump off a cliff, but we should seek to grow spiritually every day and always desire to be in a state of grace. The glory of this world is temporary. We must not get caught up in the daily struggles of our lives, but look at the bigger picture and offer our pains and sufferings as a small sacrifice to God. It gives us a chance to say a quick prayer and remember the greatest sacrifice of all; Jesus’ death on the cross. We should also never forget that he rose from the dead and that ultimately victory over sin and death has been won. We should live our lives joyfully with this hope in mind.
Lent is a great opportunity to grow in faith and love. Lent often receives a negative connotation because people often look at what we are required to give up rather than the great graces we can receive. When we give something up for lent, we should do so in the spirit of self sacrifice and with the intention of coming closer to God. Lent should not be seen simply as a chance to improve our diet. Lent is not only a sacrificial time, but we can use this time to take on new activities that we don’t normally do that will bring us closer to God. One example might be to spend an hour a week in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. You could pray the rosary daily, volunteer at a soup kitchen or charitable organization. I’d like to recommend that you visit the 40 Day’s for Life website. Ash Wednesday is the first day of the spring 40 Day’s for Life campaign. When you click on the 40 Day’s for Life link, I’ve directed you to their website which has a list of participating locations. With over 150 locations across the United States, you should be able to find a participating location near you; I see there is even a location in Muncie, IN. I recommend spending even just 1 hour during this Lenten season praying at one of these locations. I assure you that the graces you will receive from this experience will be great, and you may even be an instrument in saving a life.
Whatever it is you decide to do this Lent, remember to do it for the right reason. Don’t do it simply out of a sense of obligation, but see it as an opportunity to grow in faith. Don’t try to do more than you can succeed at doing, but be faithful to the sacrifices you choose. God does not want us to harm ourselves mentally or physically, but when we voluntarily give up something that we have a right to do or have with the intention of growing closer to God, we will be richly blessed. God bless!
40 Day's for Life Locations