Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

It’s Complicated…

2015.02.18 Blessing of the Ashes

Blessing of the Ashes

“It’s complicated.”  A popular expression in Western culture, it’s even become a relationship status.  “It’s complicated.”  But have we ever stopped to ask ourselves, what exactly is complicated about it?

In the weekdays leading up to Lent, we’ve heard at daily Mass the account of Creation – God made the world, the animals, the plants.  He formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him.  He made woman to be a companion and helpmate for man.  God walked with them in the garden of Eden.  Creation was very good.  Then it got complicated.

Jesus was traveling with His disciples through Samaria and grew tired, so he stops to rest at a well while his disciples walked into town to get some food.  A woman came to the well and Jesus struck up a conversation with her.  He then told her to go get her husband.  She can’t.  It’s complicated.

Jesus’ disciples are in a boat in the midst of a storm.  Suddenly they see Jesus walking toward them on the water.  Peter is so focused on Jesus, Jesus calls to him to get out of the boat, so he does.  Peter begins to walk on the water toward Jesus!  Then, Peter took his eyes off our Lord and things got complicated.

Complications often enter our lives because of sin, attachments to worldly things, and a lack of faith.  Today, we are reminded, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  It doesn’t get more simple than that.  The things of this life, this world, are passing away.  Wealth is lost, possessions decay or are destroyed, health and beauty fade, the powerful topple and find themselves paying homage to others more powerful.  So where is the lasting happiness we all seek?

“‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘I do not wish the sinner to die but to turn back to me and live.'”

Lent is a season to simplify.  It’s spring cleaning for the body, mind and soul, an opportunity to throw off the ties that keep us from freely following Jesus into the desert and eternal perfection.  Through the traditional Lenten observances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we can enter more deeply into God’s grace to regain simplicity and purity of heart and mind.  But it should not be something we embrace with gusto for a season, only to fall back into our old ways after the Easter bells ring.  Our time during Lent should leave us permanently changed and closer to God.

In the coming weeks of Lent, we will look a bit more deeply at prayer, fasting and almsgiving, but to start, let’s meditate on a verse from the Psalms and which is part of today’s Liturgy of the Hours (often the early Church fathers, religious and other faithful will pull out a verse or two from Scripture, especially the Psalms, and make it their meditation and prayer throughout the day, writing it on a piece of paper and carrying it in a pocket to remind them until they had it memorized).

Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Renew in me a steadfast spirit.

2015.02.18 You are dust and to dust you shall return

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