First Meditation for the First Week of Lent

Fra Angelico. The Last Judgement, c. 1431.

Men smitten with the effects of Original Sin suffer bitterly beneath the lash of Pride. Its most conspicuous mark is to think well of ourselves. As though this is not bad enough, our secularized culture exhorts us to feel privileged, entitled, and exempt from any of the constraints that bound men from time immemorial.

Then comes Ash Wednesday. Mother Church reproves us, along with our age, with the staccato refrain: “Remember man that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return”. Me?! Dust?! Dust is worthless. I am special. No, I am not. At any moment, my most carefully laid plans, cherished securities, precious loved ones, even my very life, can be taken away in a moment. Without warning.

Those ashes last Wednesday that sat upon our brow were a stark reminder that nothing in this life is permanent. Two things alone are permanent: God and my soul. Look at the bloodied face of Christ on Golgotha this Lent. Look. Slowly. Have you learned the lesson of those ashes?

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