Lots of us today have gone to our local churches to receive ashes on our heads. One would have to have a great deal of imagination to compare ashes to confetti which are scattered on newlyweds but our faith gives us more than just a great imagination, our faith enables us to see in the ashes a call to repentance, to direct our whole life towards God. Such a step can only be taken when we realise our own poverty and limitations. In the old days some people who were struggling to provide enough food would add ashes to dough when they were making bread. In this way they had more of it. Those who are poor in spirit receive ashes as they realise that humility is the essence of Christian faith. Humility doesn’t taste good but without humility we run out of spiritual food before we stand at the gates of heaven, like the poor would have run out of their food if they hadn’t had ashes among the ingredients for bread.
“If you really want to, you can turn into a flame.” St. Eugene de Mazenod once said to his Oblates, “There is no room for smouldering wicks, I want you to burn or get out!” At the beginning of Lent every Catholic should keep repeating those words. We cannot afford to be average we are called to burn brightly for God’s glory and to bear witness before men and women of our society.