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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ash Wednesday Reflection - Amy Welborn from Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter

Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter 
ISBN 9780764826870
ASIN B01N4QF53K



Note: This is the Ash Wednesday devotion from this book, posted with permission. If you like it pick up the book and journey through lent with it!

ASH WEDNESDAY 

Years ago— years— friends cajoled me into attending an Eagles concert in Tampa.

As the date approached, I realized when it would be happening: Ash Wednesday.

Predictably, I was seized with guilt. Me, a long-standing and— dare I say— prideful Lenten rigorist, a firm critic, for example, of my mother’s habits of serving expensive cuts of fish or dining out on Fridays while I humbly dished out beans or macaroni and cheese to my own family, here I was at a pop concert. 

Guilt mixed with something else that night— judgment— while I waited around outside the venue and watched a parade of lithe, tall, gorgeous young women climb out of limos. A surprising number of them had crosses smudged on their foreheads. Did those models realize how lucky they were to be on the receiving end of double judgment? They were evidently doing Ash Wednesday with even more panache and high style than I was but also without an ounce of shame, parading the dichotomy in front of the whole world, with me, on my high horse, remembering the Gospel: 

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them . . .” Matthew 6: 1 

Lent seems fairly straightforward, but Ash Wednesday’s Scripture readings reflect a tension. Joel calls God’s people to a fast. It’s a loud, urgent public call for the entire people to embark on a public penitential walk. 

But then Jesus seems to tell us something different. That fast? Do it in secret. Wash your face. Smile. Pray in private. Don’t let anyone know what you’re doing. God knows. That’s enough. 

It’s a dilemma we face when we pause at the church door after Mass on Ash Wednesday. We have that cross smudged on our foreheads. Our ashes witness to our sinfulness and our trust in God’s mercy. It’s good for us to publicly admit it, good for the world to see. 

But Jesus says what he says, and so my hand reaches up to my forehead, tissue in hand. Do I wipe it off? Should it stay? 

Wherever I find myself at Lent’s beginning these days, my first step is to accept that tension. I live in the world. The world needs Jesus. We are his witnesses. But Jesus tells me, repent, witness, pray, and give while fasting from the most deadly thing of all: pride. 

"Yet even now— oracle of the LORD— return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God." Joel 2: 12– 13


Books by Amy Welborn:
Reconciled to God Daily Lenten Devotions
Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope
A Catholic Woman's Book of Days
de-Coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of the Da Vinci Code
Loyola Kids Book of Saints
Loyola Kids Book of Heroes: Stories of Catholic Heroes and Saints throughout History
Prove It! God
Prove It! Church
Prove It! Jesus
Prove It! The Catholic Teen Bible
Here. Now. a Catholic Guide to the Good Life
The Words We Pray
Praying the Rosary: With the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries
Decoding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend, and Lies
Come Meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI
Be Saints! An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI
Mary and the Christian Life: Scriptural Reflections on the First Disciple
Adventures in Assisi: On the Path with St. Francis: On the Path with St. Francis
Prepare Him Room: Advent Family Devotions
Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter 
Parables: Stories of the Kingdom

Prove It Series:
Prove It! God
Prove It! Church
Prove It! Jesus
Prove It! Prayer
Prove It! You
Prove It! The Catholic Teen Bible

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