Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 14th


Joel 2: 12-18
Ps. 51: 3-6, 12-14, 17
2 Cor. 5: 20 – 6:2
Mt. 6: 1-6, 16-18


“Yet even now says Yahweh, return to me with all your heart …
rend your heart and not your clothing.”
Joel 2: 12-13

This text from the prophet, Joel, is something to ponder as you walk around today, ash marked on your forehead. This pondering is an inner action, not a showoff to others about what many may not understand about a dirty forehead. So, I am inviting you to ponder this: everyone will return to ash: through choosing cremation, a casket in a cemetery, green burial, or donating to science. This returning is about me, my choice as to how my body will ready itself for the glorious promise of life everlasting. This is primarily MY choice. Perhaps the invitation this Ash Wednesday, this Lent 2024, is to think about: what about those who are introduced to the Ash stage of life, not by their personal choice, but by the choices of others: Sandy Hook school children, concert goers in Las Vegas, residents of Gaza, Ukraine, Israeli settlements, U.S streets, and on and on and on. Perhaps the ashes of this Lent, personal and communal, but mostly in our common earth family, invite us to do more than walk with ash marked foreheads. Just, perhaps, we are invited to rend open our hearts, that is, to act to end war (will I join a protest?), act against guns of mass destruction (will I join a protest?)…


For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51: 3-4, 7

Personal Challenge

Whatever this Ash Wednesday invites me to be, it is to be more than a walking bulletin board saying, “I went to church.”
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Sister Carol Crepeau, CSJ
Burr Ridge, IL

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