‘Preach less for Lent’ somebody said…… Sound advice you might think.
If ever we are more disposed to take spiritual advice, it is on a day like Ash Wednesday. We might reflect on the advice we have received down the years. Fr Cronin’s, ‘Make the most of this Lent, it may well be your last…’, is particularly stark for me!
We have perhaps been encouraged to take things on rather than give stuff up, to write a letter to an old enemy and be particularly generous to a favourite charity.
Of course all this advice, whilst possibly good and true, is just that – advice – and it may even be utter nonsense if one crucial thing is not in place or at least a serious work in process. And that is to be at rights with God and man. Loving God and loving our neighbour and using the spiritual armoury of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to this end.
As ashes are imposed, imposed because nobody really wants to have a big black mark on their forehead, let us hand over our lives to the Lord. As we receive Holy Communion, received because nobody could (if they understood a fraction of the mystery) resist such a gift, let us take to ourselves the very life of the Lord.
Of course all this isn’t an exchange of ideas, nor is it encouraging advice; it is worked out in the secret of our hearts. Only we will know the success of it, and Him, of course. And our Father, who sees all that is done in secret, will reward us.