Already Lent is upon us. February 18th is Ash Wednesday. Masses will be celebrated at 8:00 am, 5:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. We will come to be marked with ashes, a reminder to us to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. We will hear the call to prayer and the private room we are asked to go to is our heart. As a disciple we will be commissioned in the secret service of others – in acts of charity. Fasting will be our discipline, letting go of the excesses in our lives – too much food, too much television, too much computer, too much…In our worlds that can be very hectic we are asked to simplify and focus on the most important things. Are we ready for the journey through this season of Lent? Fr. Ed Hays gives the following reflection as we begin Lent.
On this Ash Wednesday, reflect on an experience from the life of former President Jimmy Carter. He had applied to enter a nuclear submarine program under Admiral Hyman Rickover, who then interviewed him for the position. At the end of the interview Admiral Rickover asked, “How did you stand in your class at the Naval Academy?
Carter answered, “Sir, I stood 59 in a class of 820,” waiting to be congratulated.
Instead he was asked, “Did you do your best?”
Carter began to reply, “Yes, sir,” but recalled that he could have learned more and so answered, “No, sir, I didn’t always do my best.”
Rickover looked at Carter for a long time in silence and then asked one final question, which Carter said he never forgot – nor was he able to answer – “Why not?”
Ask yourself if it is your intention today to enter into this Lenten season with a desire to do your best to make this truly an ascent to greatness and holiness. Ask yourself if you seek to be engaged during these forty holy days with such a passionate commitment that it will become the best Lent of your entire life. If that is not your intention, then ask yourself, “Why not?” (Ed Hays, The Ascent of the Mountain of God: Daily reflections for the Journey of Lent)
These few days before Lent is a good time to ask ourselves what we will do to make this the best Lent ever. How will we pray in the privacy of our rooms and in the community of our church? What will be those works of charity where we reach out to others? How will our fast empty us so we can be filled with something better?
I am looking forward to the journey.