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Lenten Reflection

Anna Rowley CND Associate – Halifax, NS

Lenten Reflection - Ash Wednesday February 18th, 2015

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, a time to remember that God made us part of this great universe, interconnected on an elemental level. The Elements found in stardust are found in the planets and in us humans (93% of the mass of our body is stardust. this interconnectedness highlights our responsibility to each other and our planet.

The gospel reading for Ash Wednesday is taken from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

(1-6) The World Is Not a Stage

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it.  It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself.  You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure - “playactors” I call them- treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage,  acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get.   When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks.  Just do it – quietly and unobtrusively.  That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Pray with Simplicity

And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either.  All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom!  Do you think God sits in a box seat?

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.  Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense Gods’ grace.

(16-18) When you practice some appetite denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it.  It might turn you into a small time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint.   If you ”go into training” outwardly, act normal outwardly.   Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face.  God doesn’t require attention-getting devices.  God won’t overlook what you are doing; God will reward you well.

Source: The Message, Eugene H. Peterson Catholic Ecumenical Edition


Reflecting on this reading over the past few weeks two thoughts kept surfacing: first, a specific song and second, Lent – a time to do more.

When I was a teacher in Manitouwadge, Ontario I was also a Pathfinder Leader. We were blessed with a group of 12 to 14 year old girls who loved to sing. One of their favourite songs was On My Honour. Every time I read todays’ Gospel passage the chorus of this song would come to me.

On my honour, I will try;
There's a duty to be done, and I say, "aye."
There's a reason here for a reason above.
My honour is to try and my duty is to love.

No one needs to know my name
If I hurt someone, then I'm to blame
If I've helped someone, then I've helped me.
And that's the way that it should be.

Source: Campfire Activities published by Girl Guides of Canada.

It speaks of doing good deeds in the name of love without “blowing trumpets”, “shouting” or expecting recognition for our efforts which echo’s Matthew’s writing. In a society where self-centeredness and “blowing your own horn’ is prevalent, from fist pumping after scoring a goal to the ‘selfie’ obsession, this is a message our world needs to hear. Saint Marguerite wrote “…be always little and poor…as unpretentious as pumpkins or cabbages.” (WMB p.69) Ash Wednesday is the perfect time to embrace this invitation; no one needs to know your name, just do what good you can to be of service in our world.

Every year as Lent approaches I hear the common refrain “I’m giving up – coffee/tea/chocolate/desserts/television” and so on. I too, have done this for the better part of my life, as that was what I was taught to do. However, a number of years ago I asked myself “How does this action make the world a better place?” and resolved to do more instead. Whether it’s shovelling out my neighbour’s car, phoning a friend to say ‘hello’, holding the door for a stranger, offering prayers for those I may not know personally but I know are in need, or as our CND calendar for February reminds us, “make our smiles frequent, loving and inviting”. These small actions are “visitations” shared and blessed. 

We are all made of Stardust and interconnected, beginning Ash Wednesday may our deeds, prayers and fasting be carried out in a spirit of simplicity and may we follow the examples of Mary and Marguerite and be of service to others.

Blessings on your Lenten journey,

Anna Rowley

CND Associate – Halifax, NS


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