By Fr. Roy Cimagala
IT’S Ash Wednesday once again. And with it, we begin the liturgical season of Lent, a serious time of preparation for the culmination of Christ’s redemptive mission through his passion, death and glorious resurrection.
Thanks be to God, Ash Wednesday in our country always evokes a very special sentiment among ourselves as we try our best to have our foreheads marked with the sign of the cross in ash. We give this day a very special devotion, deeply moving us spiritually. And we are most willing to go through the rigor of fasting, abstinence and the other forms of penance.
Ash Wednesday specifically reminds us that we came from dust and to dust we shall return. It puts us back to the real world, helping us rid ourselves of the layers of earthly pomp and glory that we may have accumulated through the years.
But it also points to us the real and tremendous dignity that has been given to us by our Creator. And that’s because into our dust is breathed the very life of God, making us his image and likeness, sharers of his life and nature.
It’s important that we realize that while we may consider ourselves simply as vessels of clay, such vessels actually hold and bear a most precious treasure, nothing less than the very dignity of God himself.
We have to learn how to properly deal with this reality of our fragility and the treasure that is meant for us. And the way to do it is to always acknowledge our nothingness without God, and our total and constant dependence on God. We have to be wary when we dare to think that we can be on our own.
Perhaps, that is the reason why the gospel reading of the day is about purity of intention. (cfr. Mt 6,1-6.16-18) Christ tells us that when we perform righteous deeds or give alms or pray, we should avoid doing them for show and expecting some earthly reward. Rather we should do them with God and for God only.
Thus, we really should guard our heart and mind so that they can only be rooted and directed toward God. We need to see to it that in our heart of hearts, in the very intimacy of our being, it is God and not just us who should reign supreme.
We have to do everything to grow in our intimacy with God everyday. This should be a constant concern of ours. This is the most ideal condition that we can and should be in, and we just have to figure out how it can be achieved.
Let’s remember that our life is always a life with God. It is supposed to be the time for us to correspond to God’s continuing work of creating and redeeming us until we become to be what he likes us to be—his image and likeness, his children in Christ.
That is why we always need a period of serious, more direct and personal conversations with him in our mental prayers or meditations and other spiritual exercises so that that ideal intimate relation with him can be established, nourished and maintained amid the drama of life.
With that very intimate relationship with him, we would know how to react and behave in every situation of our life, as well as how to shape and direct our life properly.