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From Ash Wednesday to Easter

Lent is more than a time for doing some charitable works, some penance, or mortification. Above all, it is a time to rediscover the truth of who we really are.

Each year, Christians welcome the season of Lent. A much-needed time for ‘reprogramming’ and ‘refocusing’ our lives in the light of faith and nurtured by the Word of God. During the forty days of Lent, the faithful will be listening to a constant leitmotif: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” That is a call to conversion and an appeal to return to God’s mercy and grace.

And the Church asks that this spiritual journey be lived simultaneously by all Christians, in communion and solidarity.

Conversion is not an event that happened once and for all. Rather, it is a dynamic process that must be renewed in the different moments of life, especially when the Christian falls into worldliness and weariness, adopting worldly lifestyles and standards.

Lent is more than a time for doing some charitable works, some penance, or mortification. Above all, it is a time to rediscover the truth of who we really are. Like the people of Israel who spent 40 years in the desert, so too are believers guided by God’s Word into self-knowledge of their strengths as well as their vulnerabilities.

As Christ fought and conquered the tempter thanks to the power of the Word of God for forty days in the desert, so too is the Christian called to listen, read, and pray with greater intensity and assiduity, both in private and in the liturgy, the Word of God contained in the Scriptures.

Christ's struggle in the desert becomes for us an example of our own fighting against idols and tempters. With Christ on our side, we can win them over. And thus, we stop doing the evil we are used to doing and start doing the good we long for.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this favorable period of Lent and is characterized by the imposition of ashes on the head. The ash, in fact, is a symbol of purification, a sign of penance. It is a sign that signifies the resolve of conversion and repentance of a contrite heart.

Receiving the ashes means becoming aware that the fire of God's love consumes our sins; welcoming the ashes in our heads or foreheads means that God’s mercy will consume the encumbrance of our sins. The ritual of the ashes means reaffirming our Easter faith: we will be ashes, destined for resurrection. Yes, in our Easter our bodies will rise again and God's mercy like fire will consume in death our sins.

In Ash Wednesday, Christians reiterate their faith to be reconciled with God in Christ, their hope to one day be raised with Christ to eternal life and their vocation to the love that will never end.

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