This is why we came—not to be reminded of our finitude. God knows we feel it in our bones, and some of us in our backs and legs and arthritic hands. We come kneeling and hoping that something or someone will whisper forgiveness so that we might start again. Believing or at least hoping that these 40 days that lead to the cross might just touch something deep in our hearts.
The priest comes and dabs his finger into the ashes.
Before his assassination Archbishop Romero of El Salvador had a practice
of reading at the Eucharist the names of members of his church who had
either ‘disappeared’—or died the previous week. As the prayers of the
community were spoken—the names were be lifted up one after another.
People today often speak of a world that has changed dramatically. The
old pillars of morality, values and truth seem to have shifted.
Newspapers and other periodicals are disappearing. Technology has
changed our lives. There is an anger in the land. Many, worried about
jobs and the future, are scared, tired and frustrated.
The Christians in Jerusalem’s early church were in crisis. Should they admit gentiles into their fellowship? Could gentiles be believers? Resolution of these questions did not come easily, but finally the Jews swallowed their pride and begrudgingly allowed the gentile outsiders to come into the fold.