The Passion of the Christ opened up on Ash Wednesday, had a Good Friday.
The 76th Annual Academy Awards. 2004.
We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem.
We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.
I’m a sinner. I don’t always love God as strongly as I could or as directly as I should. Ash Wednesday reminds me that it is only through God that I have life; He gave it to me. God forgives. He loves. And He gives this sinner a second chance. Put simply: my God kicks ash.
Paul E. Hoffman
To repent means to “turn around.” Good Ash Wednesday advice. Turn around from our illusion of self-sufficiency and face God, which means facing the truth of who we are. This is a day to turn around and confess that we get it: one day we will once again be ashes.
Self-examination is not morbid introspection or self-condemnation, but the honest, fearless confrontation of the self, and its abandonment to God in trust.
Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness, I am your sin.
You took on you what was mine; yet set on me what was yours.
You became what you were not, that I might become what I was not.
Even the darkest moments of the liturgy are filled with joy, and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the lenten fast, is a day of happiness, a Christian feast.
Nevertheless, the liturgy of Ash Wednesday is not focused on the sinfulness of the penitent but on the mercy of God. The question of sinfulness is raised precisely because this is a day of mercy, and the just do not need a savior.
Ash Wednesday is full of joy…The source of all sorrow is the illusion that of ourselves we are anything but dust.
God in heaven, you have helped my life to grow like a tree. Now something has happened. Satan, like a bird, has carried in one twig of his own choosing after another. Before I knew it he had built a dwelling place and was living in it. Tonight, my Father, I am throwing out both the bird and the nest.
What does God do with dust and ash?
He grows things out of them.
He covers them with purple raiments.
He lifts people out of them.
He unfairly accepts them in exchange for beauty.
He writes mysterious things in them.
He spits in them and uses the mud to give sight.
He washes them off your stinky feet.
He breathes into them and creates new life.
He descends into them, submits to their suffocation, and emerges alive and spotless.
When you return to dust, even if your body should be burnt to ashes and scattered over the four winds, he who is the Lord over the earth will be able to collect you, reconstitute you, and resurrect you into a body fit for eternity.
Still Looking for inspiration?
Consider checking out our illustrations page on Ash Wednesday.