An important time for Christians in general is approaching. It begins with a visible and tangible sign when ash is applied on Ash Wednesday of each year. What does ash mean in Lent? What does this sign tell us in our spiritual life? These are two questions that should lead us to the importance of what Lent really means. Lent must go beyond a liturgical time and become a state of spiritual consciousness.
The ash in Lent has a very special bond because it reminds us of our ascetic character that is a distinctive feature of what Christianity is in its deepest theological experience. It leads us to be aware that we are in a constant “renunciation” in a prolonged “purification.” Although baptismal water has this same purification function, ash also fulfills this effect, because it reminds us of our fallible nature. The ash means the fallible and the ephemeral which the sacred writing mention more precisely as: “Vanity of vanities everything is vanity.” (Eccl.)
That is why Lent clarifies the meaning of existence and the attention that integral life deserves.
It is not about fleeing the “world” but being in the world as a leaven that gives form and consistency to what we now call Society that by nature experiences corruption.
It is there that we cannot think or feel that Lent is just a liturgical time. It is a mentality that leads us to a liberation of spiritual consciousness. It immerses us in the essence of things and not only in their appearance.
The ash reminds us that we are passing through the world, and just as the wind blows and disperses the ash, so we will also be dispersed by the wind of eternity. Dispersing our essence everywhere, thus passing what we call a legacy.
Lent is a state of living with what is necessary as well as to purify our heart. Lent is the opportunity to resume the light life of equiping us.
If we believe in eternal life, Lent is the means that leads us to prepare and forge ourselves in living according to the heart of God. That is what the sacred scripture says in the Pauline letters: “Long for the goods above.” Lent is the formidable state of spiritual consciousness to discern the will of God and its immanence in our existence. Every time you live with simplicity, you learn to live. When you rush to just own and monopolize it is the sign of a bad existance.
Today let us not allow Lent to be only a time, but a constant feature in our walk through the world. It will lead us to experience God’s understanding of our existence.
Consciousness in God leads us to recognize the purpose of creation and even more the gesture of world redemption.
More than penance or fasting is learning to exist with the essential. It is to make prayer food and communion with the God of life and hope itself.
It is there that we can really talk and start the Lenten journey, which will lead us to Easter to meet the true and living God.
Today’s world forgets life itself and forgets to exist with meaning. We simply come from appearances and only banalities that lead us to a vacuum.
Having today the certainty of what Lent implies would transform what humanity is today. We would understand the meaning of Justice and Peace because we would keep in mind Jesus’ words telling us: “Treat others how you want to be treated.” These are values that intrinsically occur because changes and improvements are born from individual experience and so you reach other people as a testament of transformation.
Monsignor Castro is the Vicar General of Latin America in the Old Catholic Churches International. He has also started the Society of Saint Ignatius (Jesuits) in Colombia.