We live in an environment where ashes are treated with every sense of disdain and neglect. Nobody brings ashes in their homes for decorative purposes. Nothing to celebrate, nothing to cheer and clink glasses for. It stains, brings dirt, and makes a neat place messy and unattractive.
But beyond the external features of it is its purification quality. It cleanses dirt and is used to increase the fertility of a soil. Use ash on a stained pot, add water, and scrub it, it goes off in an instant.
Today is ash Wednesday heralding the forty days spiritual walk of repentance, sacrifice; fasting, abstinence; charity and every other spiritual exercise that brings our life up to speed with the demands of God on us.
Traditionally as seen in the Scriptures, ashes represent remorsefulness; a sign showing the willingness to turn from the road of perdition, the Damascus road to the calvary hill and slopes, towards the cross where one’s humanity is nailed and the life exchanged with the life of Christ.
Today; we will all file out in rows to have ashes imprint on our foreheads. This always is the desire of many, but beyond this physical action is the need to recondition one’s mind to the things of God and the resolve to stay on that path of renewal of mind, living out the gospel and being that light that illuminates dark spots and brightens the very life that drowns and sinks in darkness.
The ash we recieve today should remind one of the vanities of human flesh. The vanity of the attention so much lavished on human body which goes back to ash, dead and decomposed. Today’s ash should imprint in our subconsciousness the reality that all the flaunting, the chase, the craves, the desires, the greed, the manipulations, the pride, the arrogance, etc that have become our second nature are all vanities and should be trimmed and muffled.
The ash we receive today speaks volumes to a heart that is yielding and malleable. It speaks to hearts and reconditions them to see life and the ephemeral glamour it craves for as vanity.
Scientifically speaking ash contains phosphorus, potassium, calcium, boron, and other elements that growing plants need to be healthy and strong. Ash is very alkaline and raises pH levels in garden soil; this provides a great place for seeds to grow.
This is the perceptive that I would enjoin all to see this act of signing ash on our foreheads from. Having a spiritual phosphorus, potassium, calcium, boron, etc that gives energy to our spiritual life.
The Glorious Ashes! The ashes that make one better, renewed and refreshed spiritually, seeing the world and its distractions as something to avoid and live above, than something to glory and bask in.
The Glorious Ashes! Giving one a better meaning and understanding of the vanity of life which shouldn’t be celebrated and priced as inevitable.
The Glorious Ashes! Giving one a refreshed and renewed zeal to continue this march of self-conquering in spite of human weakness.
The Glorious Ashes! Not just dead ash for mere imprint and brandish, that wouldn’t make one feel sober and resolved to be a better self in the light of the life of Christ.
Ash Wednesday shouldn’t be a ritual but a spiritual commitment that gives one the leverage to live above board.
Happy Ash Wednesday!
Communications Committee of Holy Family Catholic Church life camp