Even though Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation for Catholics, it is a day that draws so many of us to Mass every year. The solemnity of the Mass reflects on the faces of the community and prepares each of us to humble ourselves before God this Lent. We receive our ashes as a visible reminder that we are human with a propensity to sin, but lovingly God created us in His image. It is never to late for us to turn away from sin and reconcile ourselves with God.
Lent is our opportunity to focus intensely on God’s love, to focus on our relationship with Him and to dedicate or rededicate our lives to His only son. And, at the end of our 40-day retreat, we are given the best reward, New Life in Jesus Christ on Easter.
Knowing our reward, how do we best observe Lent, to prepare our hearts for Easter? The Church instructs us to fast, give alms and pray during Lent to rededicate our lives and journey to God. These pillars of Lent are not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. As Jesus sacrificed for the sake of the world, we humble ourselves and offer our fast, alms and prayer for those suffering in the world.
It is this promise of New Life that draws Christians to the observance of Lent. We are all sinners, but God loves us. Loves us so much, He gave us His only son. During Lent, we prepare our hearts to more fully receive the risen Christ on Easter morning. Lent is our spiritual retreat to repent from sin, repair our relationship with Christ, and open ourselves more fully to God.
Every year I look to Lent with anticipation of beginning this 40-day journey to the risen Lord. With reflection, repentance and prayer, I dedicate my Lenten retreat and sacrifices to allowing God to move more deeply in my life so that I am not the same person on Easter Sunday as I am today.