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Ash Wednesday
Wednesday, February 22 2012

Penance...

Today, we begin the season of Lent by acknowledging our sinfulness:

"God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will 'judge the world with justice' through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead." -Acts 17:30-31 NAB

Rarely does it get any more straightforward than that.  God has turned a blind eye to our sinfulness for long enough, but the day is coming that all will pay for their sins.

Today is Ash Wednesday, and it marks the beginning of the Lenten season.  During Lent, we are called to repent of our sins and turn from our sinful ways.  Through acts of sacrifice and spiritual growth, we are supposed to refocus our lives on what matters most - our relationship with God.

Throughout the day, you will probably hear or read Scripture that talks about us going from "dust to dust."  It's a common verse to share because of the symbolism of the ashes on our foreheads.  However, do not get too caught up in focusing on our own mortality.  Yes, it's true that we will one day return to dust, but that is not the full picture.  The full truth is that one day our bodies will return to dust, and our souls will move on to be judged according to the lives we lived.  It is that second part that matters the most.

Ash Wednesday is a day to begin preparing ourselves for Judgment Day.  By repenting of our sins, we can begin to bring our lives back into God's grace.  Now, some will say that there is nothing we can do to earn God's grace - which is true, but that is not what we are doing.  Instead, think of it this way, our sinfulness separates us from God's grace, and we are removing the sinfulness that causes the separation.  So, we are not earning grace, just simply stopping ourselves from losing it.

 Lent is finally here.  I hope that you find it a great time for spiritual growth and rebirth.  Lent is more than giving up chocolate for a few weeks; it is fully turning our lives back over to God.  Over the past year, since last Easter, we have probably begun to drift from the course we were on, and we have the next 40 or so days to get ourselves right again.  May the Lord brightly light your way home.

 

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