S e n t i r e C u m E c c l e s i a

"To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What seems to me to be white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls..." - Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius [365]

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From Dust... Unto Dust

"Remember, Man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return."

This is one of the formula that the minister may choose to use upon imposing ashes on the faithful's forehead. This tradition of putting ashes on one's forehead dates back to the tenth century. Ash Wednesday, as it is commonly called, starts the Catholic Church's Season of Lent.

It is quite interesting that a Jesuit priest I had breakfast with this morning shared that during his homily, he stressed this phrase: from "abu" (Filipino for ash) to "Abu" (connotes Father). I was struck by that phrase. For me that line sums up the whole significance of the season of Lent; the phrase perfectly summarizes the Christian Life. Indeed, we are "dust", we are nothing for we came from nothing. Yet, in our belief in the God who loves us, even if we are nothing, no matter how sinful and frail we are, WE ARE LOVED. I believe this is the deeper meaning of the ashes that we bear on our foreheads this very day. That God, in his immense love and concern for us, sent us Jesus, His very Son, to dwell with us, to save us, to give us the status of being "adopted sons and daughters" of our Father in Heaven.

So as we enter into this solemn season of Lent, as we try to recall and relive the paschal mystery of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection, may we be filled with the Holy Spirit to really thank God the father for Jesus. In Jesus, I, a person who is from "dust" -- worthless, ordinary, banal, am made holy and acceptable to God. As we continue with the routines of our day, may the ashes on our foreheads remind us that we are a CHRISTIAN people -- without Christ, I Am Nothing. Only in Christ can I find solace and salvation. Amen.


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