- Special Sections
- Public Notices
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” With these words ashes are smeared on our foreheads once a year—a reminder that we will all be laid to rest in the cemetery sooner or later.
Dirty foreheads that are not cleaned for a day make people smile. They also give all Christians pause to think about cleaning out our “closets.”
At issue here is not the outfit that no longer fits or one no longer in style. It is not the decision about tossing those worn out or grungy shoes. Save for another time sorting through those long-forgotten board games or videos gathering dust. Ash Wednesday foreheads call us to clean out the closets of our heart during the Lenten Season that begins today.
Ashes remind us to focus intensely on renewing our faith and turning back to God for 40 days. As Jesus retired to the desert for 40 days before beginning his public life, so we too take stock of what’s in our spiritual closet. It is a holy and wholesome thing to do.
With God at our side in this spring cleaning, brutally honest questions emerge. How much space in our closet is allowed for prayer? Is the closet so stuffed with involvement in life that there is no room for reflection on the stuff of life? Do we examine where we are going or are we mindlessly on auto pilot? Nurturing a quality relationship with God in prayer merits a front-row-center place in our closet.
Fasting is a hallmark of Lent for Christians. I remember as a child giving up candy for 40 days that seemed endless.
When Lent was over I stuffed myself with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. The long-term lesson I learned so well was how sick I could make myself by overindulgence.
The skeletons in our adult closets might be how much money we spend on wants rather than needs, how often we allow words out of our mouths before touching the wisdom tooth, how much more we love the thing we are fasting from than we love God.
Almsgiving is simply giving of our time, talent or resources to others. There are so many ways to serve others. This Lent if we choose just one new avenue that God has been calling us to for a while, if we resolve to turn something we already do grudgingly to serving with a joyful heart, if we replace some habitual activity that is meaningless with one that energizes our being, the closet is looking a whole lot different.
Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are gifts we give to God, not because God needs our gifts, but because we are the ones transformed by giving. Isn’t that what Easter resurrection is all about?
Sister Paula Gohs is bi-lingual pastoral associate at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Carrollton, Ky.