Ash Wednesday 2023
Just a few short pages into the Bible you’ll find a verse in Genesis (3:19) that touches most of us in a very meaningful way: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. These words are meant to remind us that the things of this world we strive and work for will one day turn to dust. These words, and our Lenten journey, invite us to look inward and reorient ourselves to what is eternal.
I have come to understand that Ash Wednesday, a day of reflection and repentance, has a great and fundamental draw even for those who don’t practice our faith regularly. This understanding was reinforced when I received two unrelated calls, almost back-to-back, asking for ashes to be brought to two women – one dying from the effects of a stroke and the other from terminal cancer. Joan and Carol, unrelated and unknown to each other, both preparing to leave this world and asking for ashes. What does this mean?
The words of Cardinal Wuerl ring true: “we are invited to see ourselves as dust again, to detach ourselves from the things of this world and empty ourselves so that we might be filled instead with God’s “breath of life,” that is – with His eternal spirit”.
As we take the well-traveled steps toward the altar and hear the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” may we let the meaning of the ashes on our foreheads soak well into our souls. May we, like Carol and Joan, be fully aware that when it is our turn to return to dust what will have mattered is how much we loved God and reflected that love to others. Let us empty ourselves so that we can make room for God.
With so much love and gratitude,