Ash Wednesday

Part One of an eight-part series of reflections on Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.

I held a piece of jewelry once in order to feel what the people around me were excited about. This solid-looking, beautiful, gold-link chain weighed absolutely nothing. You couldn’t tell by looking at it. In fact, you would never believe it if someone told you. It was only by physically holding it and feeling it that you could understand the truth of this necklace. It was almost like holding nothing at all.

On Ash Wednesday, we enter into the Lenten season in a very physical way. In fact, this entire season is intentionally physical, allowing us to hold the story of Easter in a way that we can experience and understand the truth within it.

We’ll start today with the ashes.

The ashes we receive at the very start of Lent immediately connect us to the end of Lent in the events of Holy Week and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The ashes, which are traditionally created from the palms we used during Palm Sunday the previous year, remind us how Jesus entered Jerusalem with great praise and honor the week before His death.

It wasn’t long, however, before the crowd turned hostile and deadly, and Jesus paid for our sins with His life. The ashes we wear remind us of the death of our Savior, and of our own mortality.

This is how we begin our Lent - in the shadow of the Cross. We prepare for the gift we are given by giving up anything that gets in the way of our receiving it. We experience this barren season, anticipating the fullness of life that is coming. We know the resurrection is coming, but it isn’t here yet.

Join me here on Mondays as we walk these forty days of Lent with Jesus. We will make our way to the Last Supper, to the Garden, to the trial, and to the Cross. We will finally arrive at the empty tomb and deeply feel the joy and promise of the Resurrection.

Experience these events, feel them, and believe.

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of my new book Walking Through Holy Week. Lent is coming on February 14th. Order your copy here to make it a good one!

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Karen May

Inspirational Catholic Writer and Speaker

based in Austin, Texas