Lent is upon us. (Or is last year still with us?)
We come to this time in the liturgical calendar when we make our preparation for the celebration of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the culmination of of His salvific work. This is a time to rend hearts (yes, even more than they have been at times for the past year). This is a time to examine our conscience and to renew our efforts to root out sin in our lives. This is a time of atonement, penance, more earnest and sincere prayer and almsgiving. This is a time of fasting, of pruning, of weeding. This is a time to be in the presence of God, acknowledging our fallen nature and asking for forgiveness and mercy.
The imposition of ashes is a reminder of all that. It is an aid in recalling from where we came, where we are, and where we shall go. From the remnants of last year's palm branches, this sacramental marks us as children of God--entirely dependent on our Father, co-heirs with His Son, and one in the Spirit.
And so we enter the desert again. For the next forty days we are on a retreat. Our God will come to meet us as He did Elijah: Cor Ad Cor Loquitur. We will encounter Jesus much like the woman at the well did: only by knowing Who He Is will we know who we are.
And hopefully, when this concludes with the celebration of the Sacred Triduum, we will be a little more ready to enter this Passover Feast, where the Lamb once slain becomes our food. At this wedding banquet, the Bridegroom really and truly gives Himself to His Bride. Are we prepared to be a little more worthy to receive Him--Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity?
It takes time to prepare such a great meal. It take time to prepare ourselves for such a great meal. Forty days is no where near enough time, but it will do.
Besides, we'll have fifty days to celebrate.