We are at the “kick-off” to 40 days anticipating Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The prophet Joel is an excellent guide for us in the coming weeks. He reminds us that we are to “rend our hearts and not our garments” as we face our sinfulness and the need to repent. Fasting, prayer and good works are means to that end, and we dutifully pledge ourselves to devote more time and effort to them. On Ash Wednesday, we are signed with the cross on our forehead, a symbol of our human frailty and desire to imitate in some small measure the suffering Christ. Through fasting, prayer and good works, we reflect on our past transgressions but we also affirm our belief and trust in a God of unending mercy. We intend to “cleanse our hearts” as Joel says and thus get right with God and neighbor.
By Carol Berg, OSB