Well, it’s Ash Wednesday again. It is always amazing to me to notice how many people show up for Mass on Ash Wednesday clamoring for Ashes. I’m not so surprised that there is a larger showing of people attending Mass, after all this is a very special season for making extra sacrifices and doing good deeds and daily Mass falls into that category.
Remember That You Are Dust . . .
But it is the people who come to church mainly to get ashes put on their foreheads that amaze me. Some come too late for the Mass, some come after Mass and rush up to the altar just in case ashes are still being given. They say the lines at Loop churches such as St. Peter’s extend all around the aisles. Even many non-Catholics go up for ashes.
What is it about being reminded that we are simply dust and that we will return to dust? Ash Wednesday seems to be the great leveling event when we all experience a kind of brotherhood that says we’re all made from the same mud. Ash Wednesday is everyone’s feast, much as St. Francis of Assisi is everyone’s saint.
Why do so many people who rarely go to church want to get ashes smeared on their heads? If you have any insights, let us hear from you.
We think by now we have read and seen just about every article and interview and argument and debate on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and are glad that February 25 has finally arrived and now we don’t have to be experts because we attended a screening last year. We never felt that we were experts but we do know that much of what we have read has been similar to what we felt and experienced and we are sure the hostility against the film is based mostly on disagreement with the basic tenets of Christianity rather than on any real or perceived prejudice.
As for all the criticism that it is too brutal and violent and bloody we simply to point to what Pope John Paul II has been quoted as saying, “It is as it was.” Our suspicion is that the actual Passion was much worse than Gibson’s portrayal. After all, the movie is two hours telling about twelve hours.
Jesus suffered through the full twelve hours and He didn’t just see a depiction of suffering, He endured it. His suffering is to show us how bad sin is, how sinful we are, how much God loves us, how much Jesus wants us to come to Him, and it gives some meaning to our own suffering and, yes, our own eventual deaths.
It also makes Christ’s resurrection more powerful to His followers for Him to have triumphed over a degrading and torturous death, and it makes the promise of our own resurrections more certain. It also adds to Christ’s image as Victor over death, Redeemer and Universal Ruler and assures our own ultimate victory over death if we follow Him and join our suffering with His.
There is no end to the meditations that can and should flow from experiencing this dramatic and graphic portrait of the Passion. The movie simply stated adds another dimension to our knowledge of what it means to be a follower of Christ. We suspect this motion picture will help jump start a number of conversions and reversions. At least it has that potential.
New Pro-Life Initiatives Abound
Many new pro-life programs and projects are popping up all over the country. We hear about a new one nearly every day, from a proposed abortion museum, to a national baby shower, to an encampment at an abortion mill, to fly-overs and Truth tours. You name it.
The pro-life movement is alive and well, and if you don’t think so just drop by and answer the phones at our office some day. We’ll keep you busy.