Category Archives: Ash wednesday

Ash Wednesday and Lent

Lent is about mortality and transformation. We begin the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday with the sign of the cross smeared on our foreheads with ashes as the words are spoken over us, “Dust thou art, and to dust thou wilt return.” We begin this season of Lent not only reminded of our death, but also marked for death.

ash_wednesday picThe Lenten journey, with its climax in Holy Week and Good Friday and Easter, is about participating in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Put somewhat abstractly, this means dying to an old identity—the identity conferred by culture, by tradition, by parents, perhaps—and being born into a new identity—an identity centered in the Spirit of God. It means dying to an old way of being, and being born into a new way of being, a way of being centered once again in God.

Put slightly more concretely, this path of death and resurrection, of radical centering in God, may mean for some of us that we need to die to specific things in our lives—perhaps to a behavior or a pattern of behavior that has become destructive or dysfunctional; perhaps to a relationship that has ended or gone bad; perhaps to an unresolved grief that needs to be let go of; perhaps to a career or job that has either been taken from us or that no longer nourishes us; or perhaps even we need to die to a deadness in our lives.

You can even die to deadness, and this dying is also oftentimes a daily rhythm in our lives—that daily occurrence that happens to some of us as we remind ourselves of the reality of God in our relationship to God; that reminder that can take us out of ourselves, lift us out of our confinement, take away our feeling of being burdened and weighed down.

That’s the first focal point of a life that takes Jesus seriously: that radical centering in the Spirit of God that is at the very center of the Christian life.

—Dr. Marcus Borg

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Let Lent Begin

This is a example of the Lenten Prayer Guide. Please click the link at the top of the sidebar for the weekly guide.

Isaiah 41:8-11

8 But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, ‘You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off ’;
10 do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand

Ash Wednesday is for people who know that it means for their soul to be logged with these icy waters: all of us are such people, if only we can realize it.

There is confidence everywhere in Ash Wednesday, yet that does not mean unmixed and untroubled security. The confidence of the Christian is always a confidence in spite of darkness and risk, in the presence of peril, with every evidence of possible disaster…

Once again, Lent is not just a time for squaring conscious accounts: but for realizing what we had perhaps not seen before. The light of Lent is given us to help us with this realization.

—–Thomas Merton

Prayer Starter — Lord I commit myself to your care and mercy this Lenten season.

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Filed under Ash wednesday, Lent, Prayer, Thomas Merton