Let’s kick off Ash Wednesday with a step outside. Since this is a short week to begin Lent, it seems appropriate that we begin at the beginning and the first things first. Every home has a main entrance through which you enter your home. Some homes function with two entrances. There’s one for the family coming home from grocery shopping and day to day activities. Then there’s the official “front door” where you greet guests, pick up packages and decorate with holiday wreaths. Depending on your home set up, consider this reflection for the main or “official” front door of your home.
We want our home to be an inviting space and first impressions matter. We all have driven through a neighborhood and unfairly judged the homes based on their curb appeal. “Did you see the color of that door? Oh my, there’s a couch on the porch. Why do you think they chose that statue? When have they last trimmed their bushes?”
I am not saying you need to go and higher a landscape firm to overhaul your flower beds or contract a painting company to redo your front door. There are a few simple things you can do this week to help your entrance be an inviting place.
- Clean any windows on your doors or near the entrance, inside and out
- Wash the door
- Shake out door mats and launder if possible
- Sweep steps
- Depending on your weather and season, begin preparing flower beds.
- Ensure proper holiday decor is up and presentable, if applicable
What about our spiritual entrance? How do we welcome Jesus into our spiritual homes? In order for Jesus to come into our lives, we have to invite Him. We need to participate in the life of the Church through prayer and the sacraments. Most importantly, we need to attend Mass to receive Jesus in the Word and in the Eucharist and we need to go to Confession. Each week at Mass, Jesus offers Himself to us in the Eucharist. In His generous love He found a way to remain with us here on earth even after His ascension. When we receive Jesus’ Body and Blood (I know, Covid), we ask Jesus to come transform us into His own Body. We change, if we unite ourselves with Him.
We know that we don’t always live up to our call to holiness. We fall, we falter, we turn away. We let this world get the best of us. We need healing and strength to continue on our journey. While we will talk more about the Sacrament of Confession at a later point during Lent, it doesn’t hurt to begin planning to go from Day 1. The Church asks that all Catholics go to Confession at least once a year, though we are encouraged to go more frequently. Receiving the Sacrament of Confession is like throwing open the doors of your spiritual home and welcoming Jesus to come inside.
These first few days of Lent, reflect on the following words from Pope Francis’ Lenten message from last year. How do they inspire you to pray, fast and give alms for this upcoming season?
Lent is a time for believing, for welcoming God into our lives and allowing him to “make his dwelling” among us (cf. Jn 14:23). Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.
Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness. Such was the case with the jar of meal and jug of oil of the widow of Zarephath, who offered a cake of bread to the prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings17:7-16); it was also the case with the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd (cf. Mk 6:30-44). Such is the case too with our almsgiving, whether small or large, when offered with joy and simplicity.https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/lent/documents/papa-francesco_20201111_messaggio-quaresima2021.html