Thursday after Ash Wednesday

This is a strange sort of day.  Yesterday was a day of repentance, fast, and abstinence.  Tomorrow is a day of abstinence.  But today is just the Thursday after Ash Wednesday.  It’ just kind of a place holder on the calendar.  What are we supposed to do today?

I was listening to Bishop Robert Barron today and he suggested we pray the Jesus prayer,  not just today but throughout Lent.  It couldn’t be much simpler, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me,  a sinner.”  This is something you can repeat frequently, not just during Lent, but if you don’t do anything else during the next 40 day but incorporate this simple prayer into your life, it would definitely be worthwhile.

Why not give it a try?

 

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return

Hopefully by this time on Ash Wednesday you have heard these words and had ashes placed on your forehead.  But why do we do this?  It runs counter to Jesus words in today’s Gospel.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Yet here we are running around with ashes smeared on our foreheads for everyone to see.  No, the ashes aren’t there to show everybody how holy we are.  The key is in the words the priest or deacon speaks.  We are dust and we’re going to return to dust.  What you see now is just our intermediate state.  We only pass through this life for a short time.  On this Ash Wednesday glance in the mirror once in a while and be reminded of where we came from and where we’re going.