I always feel so humbled on Ash Wednesday. This day, its service and its message are so counter-culture. After a whole year of being told through the media and society that we must succeed, be important and perfect, this day always shocks me back to the truth.
In today’s world we need to be someone. We value success, position and possessions above pretty much everything else. We have to climb ladders even if fingers get stepped on in the process. Yet today we are reminded of a simpler truth.
We are dust and to dust we shall return.
We are sinful – not perfect. We are mortal – not a god. Our material worth and possessions exist not in our eternal future. We are dust. We are nothing… without God.
These ashes are a humble reminder that I need forgiveness. I need to work harder to be in the world but not of it. I need to humble myself and live and work for God.
I think of the saints and the great works that they did and realize it is not their works. They are dust as well. (Quite literally now…) Yet they opened their lives to God so that He could work and teach through them. What was great in their lives was their faith. Let us be like them this Lent. Let us let go of our sinfulness and humble ourselves as the dust that we are so that God can make us great through Him.
Also, my mom reminded me of a little prayer that her mother taught her. It is a great prayer to pray at the top of the hour. I also find it especially fitting to pray during Lent.
“During this hour and every hour of the day and of the night may Jesus dwell in our hearts. Blessed be the hour and the moment when Jesus Christ our Savior became man died and rose again for our salvation. Blessed be the hour and the moment when Jesus Christ will come again in Glory.”
And seeing as today was Pope Benedict XVI’s last public homily I will share this.