With the celebration of Ash Wednesday, we begin our journey towards the experience of Easter. The custom of the use of ashes as a sign of penance has its origin in the agricultural practice of burning pastures to release nutrients into the ground, revitalize the prairie and eliminate weeds.
Every time we begin our Lenten pilgrimage, we must first bring to mind Easter. For it is through Lent that we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Mystery of our Salvation. We must think of Lent as a positive and beautiful time, not just as a time of abstinence and penance with a black stain on the forehead and no meat or sweets.
Lent is a time of preparation to the Glory of the Resurrection. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father in all his glory and our duty is to witness to his Resurrection by our new life in him.
What is the purpose of abstinence and penance during Lent? If after Holy Week I will turn back to my old vices, my old ways, if I will continue to live with resentment and anger towards neighbor, and continue to think so highly of myself…?
In this time of Lent, we must allow the Holy Spirt to transform us, to show us our brokenness, so that Jesus can heal us and we can become witnesses to the life changing experience of the Risen Lord.
The penitential spirit of Lent is meant to help us grow in Faith, Hope and Love. This is the goal.
Rev. Fr. Cesar Cayetano Arras, CR. Theat.