Lent brings us together. Ash Wednesday brings us together.
Not that the Church doesn’t always come together. Church means ‘coming together,’ after all. The Lord brings us together in church year-round.
But we know that Ash Wednesday and Lent bring us together more. Because: If there’s a single day of the year that marks us as Christians–a single most important day of them all–then, of course, that day is…
And honest Christians know we need forty days of special effort to prepare. Forty days to “get it together” for the Holy Day of days, the day that represents eternal life.
So Ash Wednesday has brought us together, because all together we know we have to work for six weeks on getting it together.
How? Let’s listen to the Holy Father…
For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favorable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practicing the works of mercy. In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy — counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer — we touch more directly our own sinfulness.
The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need.
Feeding, clothing, sheltering, visiting, counseling, instructing, forgiving, admonishing, and praying for each other–because we sinners need the help that comes from touching the flesh of the crucified Christ. Which is only as far away as the person closest to us who suffers.
required: no meat; only one full meal
good: going to Mass and receiving ashes