Throughout the Lenten season, we’ll be posting reflections for holy days and Sundays. These reflections are gleaned from Lenten reflection booklets which Pax Christi USA has been publishing for over 40 years, and their messages ring as true now as they did when they were first written. Click here to see all reflections as they are posted as well as links to other Lenten resources on our Lent 2021 webpage.
If you are looking for a daily reflection booklet specially curated for Lent, you can purchase and download this year’s special collector’s edition e-booklet, The Arc Bends Towards Justice: Reflections for Lent 2021. Read more about the booklet at this link or click here to order and download now.
reflection for ASH WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2021
by Megan McKenna
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Now is the acceptable time. (2 Cor 6:2)
The readings set the tone for the season. They are a call, a summons to the people, to those who are devoted AND those who are lax in their worship and resistance to evil to stop and turn and face God with wholehearted fasting, weeping, mourning and rending of our hearts. Though this day marks a yearly occurrence, it is more in the nature of the tense, dancing moments before a horse race, with everyone poised for the sound of the starter’s pistol, the crack which will signal it to begin. We are poised on the edge of springing into action. In some regards, Lent is the season for Christians, the time to renew our initial fervor and the intense practice of our baptismal promises so that what we do in these forty days will extend into the remainder of our lives. It is a season of striving, of reaching, of going beyond our usual routines and personal weaknesses and individual religious devotion.
This is a race, but we are all bound together — and we must be concerned to arrive together as one at the Passover of Christ. Our prayer, rituals and resistance to evil is communal and public so that the world knows that we are the ambassadors of Christ, “God as it were appealing through us.” Today sets the tone, the pace and the atmosphere for the duration. It proclaims a mindset. Fr. Alexander Schememann, in his book, Great Lent, writes:
“Lent is a journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the ‘bright sadness’ of Lent, we see — far away — the destination. It is the joy of Easter; it is the entrance into the glory of God’s Reign. And it is the vision, the foretaste of Easter, that makes Lent’s sadness bright and our Lenten effort a ‘spiritual spring’.”
This season we take back our birthrights: our joy, our hope, our practice of mercy towards one another, our single-hearted sharing of justice and our prayer that is seen by our God in secret but whose effects are experienced in the whole world. The ashes are like the marks of a tribe preparing to meet the adversary, signaling the beginning of the peoples’ struggle to be reconciled to God once again, and to one another; to repair the breach and let the mercy, the spring rain of God fall upon us all again. On your mark… Get set… Now go….