Ash Wednesday Service 2016 Reflection Text

Below is the outline of my reflection for the 4:30pm Ash Wednesday Service at Notre Dame Parish in Clarendon Hills, where I’m assigned this semester:

Ash Wednesday Reflection – February 10, 2016

  1. “Even Now” – yes, even now; again and again, and always. Return to him with your whole heart with fasting and weeping and mourning.
  2. Even now – again: what’s different this time? “Rend your hearts not your garments”
    1. Lent isn’t New Year’s Resolutions Round Two – not another time for random self-help campaigns for the sake of self-improvement. These are merely external changes and if there’s one thing Christians are not it is merely external.
      1. Without deeper meaning, these things are simply us rending our garments.
    2. But the Lord asks us to rend our hearts for him, to return to him from our lives of mediocrity and pain and let him be the one who changes us from the inside out.
    3. Whatever we choose to “give up” for Lent should be done in a spirit of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; that is, of work, prayer, and sacrifice.
  3. Even now – rebuild and restore your relationship with the living Christ who does not come to oppress us and make us sad, but to give us new, abundant life. He did this by dying on the cross for us and he asks us to imitate him by laying down our lives in service and in prayer.
    1. Ask: “Am I choosing to give this up or take this for my benefit alone?” If the answer is yes, do something else. “Is this for me or for Jesus? Is this for me or for my family? Is this for me or for the people I’m called to serve?”
    2. Rending our hearts means looking at the pile of stuff that’s gathered on the table of our hearts and clearing it off, making room for Jesus. Is he at the bottom of certain piles? Is he in there somewhere at all? This Lent, let’s strive to put Jesus back on the top of our list.
  4. So here’s what I’m doing for Lent, if you’re still in the market for some ideas.
    1. Turn off LTE on my phone, only use 4G: grow in patience.
    2. Heroic minute: no snooze button…up and outta bed in under a minute! Each day is a gift that isn’t mine to waste; so let’s get up and get after it!
    3. No soda during the week: Curbing fleshy desires helps strengthen interior virtues of fortitude and temperance
    4. Delete Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone: spend less time looking a screen and more time engaging with other people
    5. No checking texts, Instagram, or Snapchat before saying Morning Prayer: give Jesus the priority at the start of every day; root the day in him.
    6. No checking my phone once in bed: after night prayer, the night is His. “And asleep, rest in his peace.”
  1. “But it’s been so long since I’ve really tried this, last Lent wasn’t very good, I don’t know what I want to do, I think I’m beyond forgiveness at this point” etc etc etc……..”even now” says the Lord, “return to me.”