Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#ashtag: Lent 2014

Two crosses for us and one Simba swipe for Grace this morning...

The ciiiiiiiiiiircle of liiiiiiiiiife... 
First Things shared an article about being anti-#ashtag, and I must admit, I'm against being anti-#ashtag (a double passive negative? Whatever.) because, contrary to the argument of the author, I do not see the problem with taking pictures/ selfies of wearing ashes. I see it as evangelization.

Wearing ashes are not contrary to today's gospel of people standing publicly to pray and thus receiving their just rewards - it's a public witness. Buzzfeed, for example, posted "Christians Mark Ash Wednesday With #AshTag Selfies" -- and I got to see Fr. Jack, the fantastic priest at my high school, with seven Ursuline Academy students laughing and smiling behind him, as well as many other non-cloistered Christians. 

The importance of wearing one's ashes is never lost on me when I remember waiting for a flight in the Detroit airport during college on Ash Wednesday. I was going to a conference somewhere, waiting with a thick black cross on my forehead. A young girl walked up to me and asked if I had a tattoo on my forehead. She was from L.A and she had never seen ashes before, and explaining why I had them on my forehead was a humbling and surreal experience.

We are dust, and to dust we will return. A sobering and serious thought - and one shared by a community of believers. Why shouldn't that community share our beliefs in a fun and public way? It is one thing to say we are sinners; it is another to wear physical ash as a reminder for all to see- marked for Christ, we share in the humiliation. Our sorrow can become joy, even! A sacramental with real reactions. 
"During a traditional Ash Wednesday service, ashes are applied to the worshiper’s forehead (the “imposition”) in the shape of a cross. In Scripture ashes or dust symbolize mortality (Gen. 18:27), mourning (Est. 4:3), judgment (Lam. 3:16), and repentance (Jon. 3:6). An ashen cross serves as a reminder that you come from dust and to dust you shall return one day. It is also a call to “Consider yourself dead to sin and alive in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). 
As you begin this journey of Lent, you must start with rending your heart—tearing it from self-absorption and binding yourself (mind and devotion) to Jesus. Regardless of your current state or your proneness to wander, you must “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13).  
After all, Lent is not about your faithfulness, but rather about the faithfulness of Jesus on your behalf. He is the faithful One!"  
-Journey to the Cross, Day 1, Ash Wednesday
Part of our Confirmation promises is to be a soldier for Christ - soldiering does not mean one is militant, but present. Wearing one's ashes and sharing them with others connects the vines of Christ, and plants seeds along the way too.

1 comment:

  1. Great reflection! Its so true, we don't get ashes to try to look more holy, the whole thing is a reminder of just how much we NEED God.
    Hope you and your family have a great Lent