February 26, 2020
by Tamora Whitney
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 219

Joel 2:12-18
Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 and 17
2 Corinthians 5:20--6:2
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Praying Lent

How Come I Fear Lent?

Why do we use Ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Lenten Audio Conversations:
Brief words about what's happening each week.

With text transcripts of the Conversations which can be shared with others.

Cooking Lent
Recipes for Ash Wednesday,
all the Fridays of Lent and for Good Friday

Beyond Chocolate: A Deeper Lent

It’s Ash Wednesday, and the question of the day is, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

This season is a time for sacrifice, but also for reconciliation, and for a greater awareness of our relationship to God. It is a time to return to God, to acknowledge our shortcomings and atone. “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Lent is a time set aside for repentance, but really, any time is the proper time to repent our sins and seek forgiveness.

The first reading encourages us to come to God for forgiveness, and if we are repentant, he will be merciful. We should turn away from anything that has kept us from God and turn to him in his mercy. We should seek to be better – to be our best selves – and to ask for God in his compassion to help us accomplish that.

Even giving up Starbucks or candy can help us with compassion, and the compassionate thing to do would be to donate the money we would have spent on coffee or chocolate to help someone who has no food or no clean water to drink. Denying ourselves can help us feel solidarity.

Because Lent is not just about giving something up, it’s about getting something, about being better. It’s about recognizing what has kept us down and wanting to be better people. In the Gospel, Jesus does not discourage us from sacrifice, from fasting, from almsgiving, but he discourages us from making a show of it. He says our repentance needs to be from our hearts, and God can see into our hearts. The good works we do should be for the good, not to show off. Are we providing alms to help others because it’s the right thing to do, or so others can see how good and generous we are? The point is to do the right thing, not to show off our generosity.  Our sacrifices can be private, and God will know what’s in our hearts. And our rewards will be bigger than notoriety.

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