Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday & I went to get my ashes at the parish. The coloured banners which denote liturgical time had changed from green to purple- the beginning of Lent. I was surprised to discover that anyone can receive ashes because they are a sacramental, not a sacrament. A sacramental is something like a crucifix or a rosary- something tangible. Anyone can use it.

Lent is about fasting, prayer & almsgiving, but these things don't have to be fasts from food, hour long prayers or giving lots of $$ away. We can "sacrifice" intangible things too. I decided to give God my doubt & any residual fear I have about becoming a Catholic. For the next 40 days, I will live like I am unconditionally loved by my parish. I will live like I belong. I will live like everything the Catholic church tells me is true, without fear, without doubt. Something in me wondered how I would be able to do it if I haven't been able to overcome these things on my own outside of Lent? What about my paralyzing anxiety? Like Isaac, I thought- there's some wood and an altar, but where's the offering? Abraham told his son that God would provide the sacrifice, even as he prepared to tie him up & stand over him with a knife...

The Rite of Sending was the first time I emerged from my pew for a blessing during communion. At Ash Wednesday Mass, I began to kneel before sitting, cross myself after prayer and speak the obscure responses at Mass. I greeted people wholeheartedly during the Peace. And I joined the line for ashes. The EM (extraordinary minister- a person "deputized" by the priest to administer a sacrament), dipping her thumb in the ash & putting it to my forehead said: "Remember you are dust..." The Lenten journey has begun. God will provide the sacrifice.

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