An Ash Wednesday Refection by: Fatima Perez
A month or two ago, I remember one night I was rocking my son to sleep. He was having a tough time falling asleep on his own so I took him into my arms and sat us in the rocking chair. With each rock back and forth, and as he looked out the window and up at the stars, I was telling him how much I loved astronomy as a kid. I shared how one Christmas years and years ago, my parents bought me a telescope. There were many nights when my brother and I would hang out on the backyard deck to look up at space, at the stars. All of this eventually brought me to sharing with him, as his eyes finally grew tired, how the God of the universe, who made everything including every star in the sky, created him and loves him.
This past Sunday, our sisters and friends returned home from our annual Women Youth Apostles retreat. The theme this year was centered on the reality that we are God’s beloved. This extended time of being “away” from the world was a great gift to each of us because it is in silence and prayerful reflection that we are able to more deeply dive into the depths of our heart, understand who we are by truly knowing Whose we are, and that we were created out of love for love; everything else is a result of this truth. This is so important to call to mind time and again because often we forget it as we are inundated with noise and distractions, feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness.
Today, Ash Wednesday, begins the Lenten Season. When we go to Mass today we receive ashes on our forehead. The ashes remind us that we were not ultimately created for this world and the shape of the cross reminds us that we were created for Heaven, for it is in Christ’s death on the cross and rising from the grave that we are able to share in His life outside of this world—Heaven, where we were ultimately created for. This is why this liturgical season focuses on a deeper level of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving because in doing so, we position ourselves to remember that we are not of this world, and this is how we prepare ourselves for the next.
In this preparation, it doesn’t take much to note how the world is full of so much noise and distraction. This is why going on a retreat was such a gift, and I’m sure others who’ve gone on a retreat would agree. In order to enter into a state of deeper prayer, we have to leave the noise, and go in the inner room of our heart. This isn’t because we are being forced to, but because it is by going in that we are able to meet with the God who loves us and Who will guide our path to Heaven, for it is in the silence of the heart that He speaks. It is even in the silence that He shatters our feelings of unworthiness due to sin, or inadequacies in living a life as a disciple of His… for He tells us:
“You are worthy,
You are enough.
Rest in My Mercy.
I love you.”
I pray that this Lenten season will bear great fruit for each of us. When we go into the inner room of our heart, may prayer help us to more closely examine our lives through a telescope, as its very purpose is to collect light to view things far away. May we be always reminded of the lasting light of God’s immense love & abundant mercy for us and as we journey in faith in this world, that we may keep our eyes fixated on where we were ultimately created for, a place much closer to us than we think.