Embracing our ashes: one student reflects on importance of sacrifice

Published: April 7, 2016

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / ASH CROSSES symbolize the vulnerability and mortality of the human body as it was created by ashes. The humility that they symbolize takes on a particular significance during the Lenten season but is impotant to Catholics year round.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / ASH CROSSES symbolize the vulnerability and mortality of the human body as it was created by ashes. The humility that they symbolize takes on a particular significance during the Lenten season but is impotant to Catholics year round.

Reflection by
MARISA RILEY 

So Lent is over. For some this may be a relief, a freedom from fasts and a return to normal life.

For others, those who do not merely go through the motions of the traditions, but rather find joy in the preparation for Christ’s love, there can be a letdown.

Perhaps the anticipation of Easter gave you a fresh focus and purpose, and lifted you above the anxieties of everyday life.
Now we have to remember that every day should be filled with that purpose.

Lent provides us with a time of reflection and penitence.

The Lenten season begins with the reminder of our mortality, in that “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The ashes we receive on Ash Wednesday symbolize the dust from which God made us.

We live an earthly existence, and the imperfections that come with it. The ashes that begin Lent help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

Lent can be a beautiful time of discovery and challenge.

We find the strength to rid ourselves of spiritual distractions, and we sometimes discover a heightened awareness of the gift of the Resurrection.

But then it’s over, and we often find ourselves with a case of the blues. We return to normal routines and stop holding ourselves accountable.

Well here is the thing: You do not need to stop.

We must continue to embrace our ashes.

We can remain unafraid to reflect on our imperfections, and acknowledge them as part of our earthly existence.

You have the opportunity to live out what you learned on a regular basis. And the wonderful part is there is less external motivation.

You guide yourself, and it becomes more meaningful.

You can relive the journey you made over those 40 days, see what challenged and fulfilled you the most, and maybe even figure out what is manageable long-term.

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