It seemed very appropriate to go and receive ashes on Wednesday, to recall that we are from dust and to dust we shall return.
We are marked on our forehead with ashes in the shape of a cross on that day. A visible sign of our faith, that reminds us to have a spirit of repentance and humility. I love that Christianity has these visible signs, particularly Catholicism...like the sign of the cross. When we make the sign of the cross we are making a physical gesture that recalls the trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the incarnation (Christ becoming man), and our redemption (through Christ's death on the cross and resurrection)! Scott Hahn calls the sign of the cross, "the mystery of a gospel in a moment"...and it is so true, as we proclaim our Christian faith through this simple gesture. I used to be embarrassed to bless myself out in public (say before a meal at a restaurant), because I was self-conscious and wondered what people might think. But now, I see it as such a blessing to have this sign!! I can witness to others about my faith without ever saying a word, and sometimes that is the more powerful witness. Like Saint Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the gospel always. If necessary use words."
I also have to say that I love Lent. I love that the church has this time of spiritual preparation where we are called to immerse ourselves in preparing for the celebration of the saving work of Christ's death and resurrection.
Last year, I don't think I was in any state of mind to truly appreciate the activities of Lent: giving up something we enjoy, fasting, abstaining, going to confession, participating in spiritual or physical acts of mercy towards others...I was too caught up in the grief and numbness of all that had happened.
But this year I am eager to participate in all these ways which will develop my spiritual side. My biggest Lenten decision has been to give up television, other than religious programs (which I'm really excited about, because I know that television shows contribute to a desensitization to sin, and personally, I think there's a lot of garbage on tv)! Not that I used to sit around and watch trash on tv, but I would spend a little too much time watching "A Baby Story" or other birthing shows, most of which I've seen once or twice before! So what will I do with all my new free time?? Well so far I have already read 1 1/2 books! At this pace I might be able to read 20 in 40 days, but I am going to set a goal for 10 books this Lent (still ambitious for me)! And the books I am choosing are all spiritually edifying.
Finally, after nearly a year of trying to conceive again and battling with the obsessive side of trying to conceive, I have once again made a conscious decision to give this area (my fertility or infertility as it were) over to the Lord. It is an off and on again battle within myself to think too much about having another baby, to watch those birthing shows over and over again, to obsessively check my fertility chart and to use way too many pregnancy tests at the end of the month rather than just remaining patient. So on Ash Wednesday I turned over this area again to the Lord and am praying for perseverance in patience in having another baby if that is truly God's will.
Don't misunderstand though, I remain hopeful in God and His plans, and continue to pray that He might have another baby in our future.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14