Background Image
Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  4 / 9 Next Page
Basic version Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 4 / 9 Next Page
Page Background A SH W EDNESDAY

Joel 2:12-18

Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18



Jesus chides the Pharisees for practicing almsgiving, prayer and fasting for all the wrong rea-

sons. Some Pharisees are more interested in the show of outward appearances than in the

inner work that brings us closer to God.



Lent is such an important time in our Church calendar: it’s a wonderful time

of reflection on where are with our relationships with God and with one an-

other, as we prepare for the Triduum. But to be honest with you, while I love

the season of Lent NOW, I have actually spent a good part of my early life

avoiding Lent. Growing up as an Anglican in Bermuda, not only did Lent

seem much less important than Christmas, but the whole period of Lent was

dominated for me by the two days that bookmarked it: Shrove Tuesday and

Good Friday. And I have to say that was for the wrong reasons!!! On

Shrove Tuesday, my mother always made English pancakes, delicious thin

crepes served with lemon and sugar. We didn’t observe Ash Wednesday

and the rest of Lent passed by without any real consciousness of it, until we

got to Good Friday. On Good Friday, a public holiday, we followed the Ber-

mudian custom of flying kites—beautiful geometric creations crafted out of

colorful tissue paper and wooden sticks nailed together like a cross. The

kite flying tradition symbolizes Jesus’ ascent into heaven and that was the

closest we ever came to a religious observance on Good Friday.

After I became a Catholic, Lent was inescapably embedded in my consciousness, but for

years I dreaded the weeks leading up to Good Friday and the inevitability of it all: the reliving

of Jesus’ betrayal, his agony on the cross and his death. I yearned for the good old days when

I could get through Good Friday by flying kites, skating over the appalling realization of what

we had done to Jesus, and making it safely, painlessly, to the Resurrection and Easter Day. I

didn’t get Lent.

I suspect that in my response to Lent I was not alone. Christmas is so much easier, which

might explain why it is much more widely celebrated, even by non-Christians, than Lent and

Easter, the pinnacles of our liturgical year. Christmas has the lovely stories of faith with an-

gels, shepherds, exotic wise men on camels, the baby Jesus in the stable, the doting saintly

parents, the wicked villain looming in the background, and the successful escape from the jaws

of death to Egypt. Christmas has all the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster! Lent is much

more like one of those dark, foreign films that only film aficionados go and see. You know: the

ones with the subtitles and the cryptic plots that you’re embarrassed to admit you don’t under-

stand. Lent is full of images of repentance, ashes, dying, suffering, crosses...not exactly the

easiest things to market to a world that is looking for feel-good solutions and happy endings.

And then somewhere in the course of my faith journey, things began shifting and Lent started

taking hold of me, it started becoming more important than Christmas. You have to live a little,

fail in some way, suffer, lose what’s important to you, have your heart broken, make mistakes,