Divine Master Chapel of Adoration, Athlone
“From Ashes to Alleluia”
[From A Pilgrims Progress]
Every religious experience begins with emptiness. We began the Lenten journey in the desert and we continue to walk, making the journey from Ashes to Alleluia. On Ash Wednesday we came forward to have ashes placed on our forehead and to hear the words “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return”.. The burnt palms, symbol of the joy and majesty which accompanied Jesus during his entrance into
I remember often raking out the fire at home and finding cinders among the dust and ashes which were still glowing, the fire could be re-lit from these burning cinders. We all know the story of Cinderella but maybe we never thought that it could give us a lesson in the theology of Lent. Cinderella is the young girl who literally sits in the ashes. As the fairytale continues, we see that before the glass slipper is placed on her foot, before the beautiful dress, the ball, the prince, the dance and marriage, there must first be a time of being humbled and sitting with herself. God can do the same with us, he can rake through the ashes of our life and find those burning cinders, that small spark which can be fanned into the Paschal fire which will herald Christ the Light, the Resurrected Lord, during the Easter Vigil. We will have our happy ever after ending, if we stay close to Him, we will receive the gift of his love and in return to be able to love Him and others with unconditional love.
When we fast or carry out Lenten penance we are encouraged, as the Gospel reminds us to “wash your face, put oil on your head so that your fasting may not be seen by others.” This is the paradox of Lent.
Yet, we are called to be expressive in our joy of knowing and following Christ. For some people, Lenten penance might actually mean being joyful as opposed to being moody or giving up chocolate or other such things. Jesus does not want us to go looking for suffering; he wants us to accept the suffering that confronts us as we live our lives according to Gospel values. Too often during Lent we pick our own suffering and our own crosses. You don’t have to raise your hands, but how many people have ‘given up’ chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes , swearing for Lent? We tailor the crosses to fit our lives. There is a little story which illustrates this point perfectly: A man who went to
During the Lenten season, we are allowed a glimpse of what exactly the Resurrection will bring. The 4th Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare Sunday, that is, Rejoicing or Exulting Sunday. The purple vestments are changed for a rose coloured one, flowers return to our altars. For that day, we have the preview of Easter joy. Is it not strange though to be talking about joy during Lent, as we enter Passion Week, are we not meant to be going around with sad faces, punishing ourselves and doing penance, downcast and depressed?
This Sunday we mark Palm Sunday or more correctly Passion Sunday, we will hear two Gospels, one of the triumphant entrance of Jesus into
It is said that one day Michelangelo, strolling in a courtyard of
Leonardo da Vinci once said, sculpture is the art of removing. Is it not true for our life? For us however it is not about the attaining an abstract beauty of building a beautiful statue, but about bringing to light and rendering ever more resplendent the image of God that sin tends continually to cover. We are God’s masterpiece, his work of art but he needs to chip away at us. Hidden in the ugliness of death and sin is the light of the Resurrection if we are willing to wait out Holy Saturday. Each of us must fight our own demons, struggle with our own sadness. The Resurrection gives to us the equally unbelievable possibility of the newness of live that forgiving and being forgiven brings. The Resurrection promises that things can always be new again .It’s never too late to start over, no betrayal is final, no sin is unforgivable. God never gives us on us, even if we give up on ourselves. Resurrection is not just a question of three days, after death, rising from the dead, but it is about the daily rising from the many mini-graves within which we so often find ourselves. The Resurrection teaches us how to live, again and again and again!
Conclusion:I leave you with the words of the Holy Father, this is my invitation to you as we enter into the holiest of weeks. “Dear friends, learn to see how God is working in your lives and discover him hidden within the events of daily life. Believe that he is always faithful to the covenant which he made with you on the day of your Baptism. Know God will n ever abandon you. Turn your eyes to him often. He gave his life on the cross because he loves you. Contemplation of this great love brings a hope and joy to our hearts that nothing can destroy. Christians can never be sad, for they have met Christ, who gave his life for them.”