The season of Lent is now at hand. Our long path through the desert is laid out before us. This day, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of our forty-day journey towards the Lord and eternal salvation through His death and Resurrection. There is undoubtedly an abundance of imagery that reminds us of the Lenten season. The first reading alludes to some of these saying: “with fasting, and weeping, and mourning…Blow the trumpet in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an assembly, gather the people…” The Scriptures call us to gather together as a Catholic community to examine ourselves and renounce sin with an open heart.
However, it is the words of the Gospel that summon a distinctly different image of our task this Lenten season. Jesus tells His disciples, “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” There is a distinct juxtaposition between the displays of trumpets, weeping, and assembling the Lord’s people and Jesus’ call for quiet, contemplative, personal prayer. In this way, Jesus reminds us that our quiet walk through Lent starts with an honest, visceral examination of ourselves—that it is our intimate and personal relationship with God that will lead us to His most perfect grace and the promise of everlasting life. Perhaps it is here, behind closed doors, where our Lenten journey truly begins.
Lord, lead us to the most inner room of our hearts where we may be joined in perfect union with You. May our ashes this day not only remind us of our sinfulness, but also fill us with hope in the Resurrection and overwhelming gratitude for Your ultimate sacrifice on the cross and triumph over death. Amen.
Eliza McDonald, ’17
First Reading: Joel 2:12-18
Psalm 51:3-6b, 12-14, 17
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18