A Lenten Invitation

[Antiphon 1.  See Joel 2:13] “Come back to the Lord with all your heart; leave the past in ashes, and turn to God with tears and fasting, for he is slow to anger and ready to forgive.”

I found myself reading these words from the Missal over and over again earlier this evening at Ash Wednesday Mass.  They seemed to be calling to me, part invitation, part challenge.  Leave the past in ashes.  Leave the past in ashes.  Leave the past in ashes.

Is there something about being forgiven that I haven’t truly believed?  Or is there something from the past to which I am clinging, impeding me from moving forward?  Perhaps this will be a part of my Lenten journey this year.

May you all have a blessed Lent, as we travel together towards Easter, each of us with our unique invitation/challenge from the Lord.  

12 thoughts on “A Lenten Invitation

  1. It’s a good thing…leaving the past in ashes…not so easy to retrieve it and mull over the failures and mistakes past.

    I think it is the concept of the accompanying Antiphon and not a direct scripture quote of Joel,Gene.

  2. Hi, Gene. When I read the words in the Missal, I assumed they were a direct quote from Scripture too, but I see that they aren’t, having looked it up after your comment. It’s the general sense of it, but “leave the past in ashes” just isn’t there! Have I been inspired by an anonymous liturgical committee? 🙂 I also checked in a pre-Vatican II Missal that I have here at home, and Antiphon I on Ash Wednesday is still from Joel 2, but slightly different. Ah, well; I’ll take my inspiration where I can get it! So happy to have you drop by!

    Lucy, it’s been too long since I’ve been able to visit, but I know you’ve been working through the past for quite some time now… It’s not an easy process, is it, but I think it has to be a process (excepting Divine Intervention). If we don’t take the time to reflect, to gain some self-knowledge, have time to heal, to forgive and be forgiven, if we just shut things out in order to leave the past in ashes, I suppose it would rebound on us at some point. The great gift, I think, is recognizing the voice of the Holy Spirit, telling us it’s time now…move forward.

    teresa, that’s it, isn’t it, doing the work to learn from the past mistakes and failures, but recognizing when the time has come to stop “retrieving” it. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone, but I’m sure this is tied in very strongly with the graces received in the Sacrament of Reconcilation. Thanks re your input on the Antiphon. You know, I googled it a bit, and came across this whole subject of Antiphony (new to me) and it seems to be a huge and very interesting area of study.

    ukok, you’re especially on my heart and in my prayers for this Lent. I know things are extremely difficult right now. The other night I spent some time reading through everything I had missed, and despite everything, I want to tell you what a strong and courageous woman (and mom) you are. It’s easy for any of us to say “hang in there”, but I have felt completely overwhelmed by much, much less. I will keep you in my prayers, that the Lord will sustain you during this very difficult period and that the solutions will start rolling in, one by one.

  3. By ‘an anonymous liturgical committee’ it must’ve been augmented, indeed. “By one pervading Spirit/Of tones and numbers all things are controlled,/As Sages taught, where faith was found to merit/Initiation in that mystery old.” (Wordsworth) And let the ashes be the first portal into that mystery old.

  4. All too often the past which should be fairly and squarely behind us poses to be a great big stumbling block, impeding as you say, Gabrielle.
    Here, I’m talking about guilt over past wrongs rather than hurts caused to us.
    Sometimes I think it’s a case of not finding forgiveness in ourselves, not loving ourselves as Jesus would want us to, and when we feel like that we can’t imagine a being who would love us and is ever ready to forgive that which we deem unforgivable.
    And yet He is there, ever patient, ever waiting for the knock at the door.

  5. Lent is the time we finally stop whistling past any graveyard.. Now, we go right in and fall upon our knees despite all the ghosts who come to rattle us. We scoop up handfuls of what we will all become, and leave a mark of it as we wipe our our sweaty forehead. This moment is when many philosophers stop seeing. They don’t see also that this very dirt is the same from which we were holily Fashioned with the greatest Love by someone who desired us into being!

    So, then, this having never been a graveyard at all, thanks be to Christ Jesus Who strolled out of it (so alive that He soon ate fish with His Apostles on the beach to dispel ghost thoughts there, too), we go on over to His tomb which was empty after 3 days, and we stand behind Peter and see the linens, and the head cloth rolled up separately, and something here scares us in its impossible reality. We realize the Magdalen was right, and so we must run not to Apostles but to philosophers and those others who don’t yet know Easter’s Good News: Death is the illusion, not life. Love bursts through the shroud and renders any kind of death only a hearth ablaze with Absence.

    Holy desert, a room in secret, or a graveyard.. fasting, abstaining, praying, almsgiving– and sifting. We must go in, with great sighs over our every sin, but also with sure hope. Hope to learn. To learn the Way. The Way out of graveyards! A mutual destination has been Prepared for us, and indeed, we found no baggage in the dirt nor in the Linen. Love must travel light, just as He said.

  6. Thank you all, my caring, understanding, poetic and praying friends. What a privilege to be sharing this Lenten season with all of you. “Love must travel light” (JustMe), and let us believe and rejoice in the Truth of Divine Mercy!

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