by Catherine Doherty.
Lent is God’s lovemaking to man. But God’s lovemaking is strange. He knows, for instance, that a child is trained to jump by having first a little brick to jump over, for his feet are very tiny; then two bricks; then three; and finally the Olympic jump—whatever it is.
Why do we have to train children and ourselves? Because as we discipline ourselves, our road to God becomes more sure. My goal is Jesus Christ. At first I move like a baby, then a little faster, and finally I’m able to run. Lent is the time of re-learning how to run towards God instead of wandering about aimlessly.
When one is a runner or a skier, one has to discipline and train oneself. Lent is a training for love. And God brings obstacles so that we might become a little faster, a little more disciplined. For he is the Lover who is standing there waiting for us to come. He knows that he has to wait for us to grow in his love.
We are preparing for Ash Wednesday, when we’re going to have ashes placed on our foreheads. What a curious Catholic custom! What does it mean, having ashes on your forehead? It means that you came from the earth and to the earth you will return. It means that you have only this life in which to prove that you love God….
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Remember, man, that you are but dust…." Ah, but what dust! You’re dust that is going to be one with God. Isn’t that enough to make you dance right in the middle of this ash business?
We’re not an ordinary dust, we’re a dust that is going to be eternal; a dust that is going to be glorified; a dust that’s going to be with God. So, let us prepare ourselves to receive those ashes with joy—a joy based on discipline—and let us enter the corridor of Lent. Then, even today, before we die, we can see his face, as through a veil.
—Adapted from Season of Mercy, pp. 29-30, (1996), MH Publications, out of print.
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