The conclusion to the nursery rhyme, “Ring Around The Rosie” ends with “Ashes, ashes, we all fall…” What? Finish the sentence… Here are just a few other ways we could finish it:
We all fall…DOWN in humble adoration of our Lord
…short of the glory of God
…into sin and need to reconcile our relationships
with God and others, and we can do that by
showing sorrow for sin by repenting of it.
While there is a need for all of us to repent and do penance, and while that may be the end of a familiar nursery rhyme, we are about to begin a new month on Wednesday with March, which means spring is close, and that means growth in creation and growth in our spiritual lives too. But on this Wednesday we embark on a new season in the church year – in our liturgical calendar. This penitential season of Lent launches this Ash Wednesday, and it’s a season focused on three themes: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. One of the first questions that may come to mind is, “What are we giving up?!” While it is worth a prayerful reflection to come up with a good answer with some form of detachment or sacrifice, we may also want to add, “what are we going to DO?” Think along the lines of making a great investment of your time through a charitable work, for example.
While we may give something up or do something for our neighbor, one thing that helps to remind us of our own call to holiness and others’ needs in Lent is to be marked on our foreheads with ashes. A priest or deacon will mark your forehead saying either one of two things:
- “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” or
- “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Back in late November Fr. Sal reminded us of the dust we shall return to at death with the three-day presentation called “Ashes to Ashes: Spiritual and Practical Answers to End of Life Questions.” For further information type in “michigan catholic conference end of life issues” on google.com and a document (PDF) should pop up called, “Guidelines for End-of-Life Decisions: Patient, Physician, and Family & The Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.”
In addition, to receiving your ashes on Wednesday and focusing on the themes of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving over the next 40 days, here are a few other things one could do:
- Read a book called, Roman Pilgrimage, by George Weigel and Elizabeth Lev. They will take you on a Lenten journey through Rome to visit one of the Station Churches each day during the 40 days of Lent and each day during the first week of Easter. You will not only read about the rich history of these churches, but you will view picturesque photos, all without having to go to Rome. I will put my copy in the library on hold (to stay there 🙂 for those that may want to spend a few minutes to glance through the pages. It may also help you make a decision to purchase a copy for yourself or not.
- Watch two short films from the Lenten film series provided by Mike McCarthy, one of our parishioners from Pax Christi. For example, this Friday, March 3rd will feature two short films: one on Bl. Franz Jagerstatter called, A Man of Conscience (24 mins), and the other is about a biography on the Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton entitled, Merton: A Film Biography (57 mins). You can view these films with fellow parishioners inside the St. Stephen School in Room 105 at 7pm for FREE!
- Finally, below are some wonderful, upcoming liturgical events to attend:
- Holy Thursday morning – Chrism Mass: April 13th, 2017 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit (off of Woodward). Put this event on your “Catholic Bucket List” not only to visit our cathedral (if you’ve never been there before) but also to attend this special Mass in which all of the holy oils (Chrism, Infirm/Sick, and Catechumen) are blessed, picked up by one representative from each parish in the archdiocese, and then taken back to each parish to use for the all of the sacramental moments for the upcoming year. If you plan to go, get there very early to get a seat. It fills up quickly!
- Holy Thursday: Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 7pm @ the St. Stephen site
- Good Friday: 1pm Stations of the Cross, 2pm Sacred Music, and 3pm Celebration of The Passion of the Lord, all @ the St. Joseph site; *Tenebrae Svc. – 9pm @ St. Stephen
* Tenebrae is a devotional service from the Office of Readings in prep. for Holy Saturday
- Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil @ the St. Stephen site @ 9pm
- Easter Sunday: 7:30 & 11am Masses @ St. Joe and 9am @ St. Stephen.
May the ashes we receive this Wednesday inspire us to grow in a deeper relationship with Jesus this Lent through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. May these ashes also better prepare us to celebrate Jesus’ death and Resurrection who willingly did it for his people who have fallen but still maintain their faith, hope, and love to be raised up by Him now and on the last day. Amen.
– Fr. Jeff