As we move further into this Lenten season and I prepare my current RCIA class at Notre Dame to make that same profession of faith I made some sixteen years ago, I am struck by the myriad ways that I have been formed and influenced by Holy Cross.
Even in death our brothers are there with us to help us journey to the next life, to continue to pray for us and support us at those moments when we need it the most.
The priests and staff of the parish are working to implant this important aspect of our faith in the people so that they see that the path does not end with the Cross and ashes, but that these lead us to the glorious truth of the Resurrection.
Sometimes I wonder at the marvel of it all: I grew up a Protestant kid just a few miles from Notre Dame (a place with which my family has no formal connection), and now I am a Roman Catholic, a vowed religious, and a seminarian.
I pray that the Lord continue to bless the Christian communities in the Middle East and in North Africa, and to give them the grace of perseverance and a strong faith in God as the healer and lover of all creation.
In working with RCIA, I've learnt something new about thirst for baptism, and excitement about confirmation. I've learnt a new found appreciation for my own.
Most of all, we need to bring to others the hope of eternity, as that is what ultimately gives meaning to our lives.
I found that not only was it utterly impossible, but that it was utterly pointless. It was pointless because it was not bringing me closer to God. Rather, it was a kind of self-idolatry. In my fumbling attempts at giving up things, I was patting myself on the back, congratulating my willpower...
As we enter this Lenten season, let us be brought low. Let us be humbled. Now is the time to rise to Christ's call to preach repentance, but in responding to this call, let us first learn how to preach repentance to ourselves.
Although convenient, the physical connection between our palms and ashes is more than just recycling, but also an important symbol of the link between our praise and adoration of God and our desire for repentance and mercy.