Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Authentic Ashes

Ashes, for Ash Wednesday are supposed to made out of the palms which were carried in procession last Palm Sunday. The symbolism is earthly glory turned to dust and ashes: Palm Sunday - Good Friday.

There is a high oil content in palms so once you have them started them they burn pretty quickly but the smoke is pretty acrid, not like the smoke of incense. I know priests who have used any old ash, ash from ash trays, some of the ecclesiastical suppliers even send ash in a little sachet, I knew one who used to get an envelope of ash from the local crematorium, a rather overstated emphasis of 'Remember Man you are dust and to dust you shall return', though he himself tended to use the alternative, 'Repent and believe in the Gospel'.

'Authenticity' in the Liturgy should be important, it is important in the Christian life, it should be important in Lent. 'Authenticity' is the brother of Truth, one of the most important aspects of Lent is the Sacrament of Penance, one significant reason people fail to go to Confession is that they are afraid of facing the truth about themselves and afraid of admitting it to another human being. There is a cowardliness here that is quite alien to the Gospel.

Living in shadows, living with half truths, living with illusions is not Christian. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christians are supposed to be both truthful and honest, especially about themselves and the Lord.

The great spiritual masters tell us to 'seek humiliations', ultimately the humiliation of the Cross, the best way of doing this is to be truthful and honest about ourselves, to face up to the reality of who we are, to remember that we are dust and to dust we will return, to be truthful, to be honest about what we do and who we are, without this we cannot even begin to pray authentically, because must be grounded in absolute honesty, we cannot live a lie in the face of God.

Perhaps this Lent for all of us our Lenten penance should be about scrupulous authenticity: honesty about who we are, integrity about our relationship with Christ, even if it brings us disadvantage, humiliation, pain, suffering, even death.

The new martyrs of Egypt died with the Holy Name of Jesus on their lips, may they inspire us this Lent to live with His Truth always on our lips.


Paul Gubbels said...

I have watched this awful video and these men are heroic in their approach to certain death in a most horrific manner. They are indeed an inspiration to us all to remain true to our faith and to never give in to those who will attack our belief in the risen Christ.

NBW said...

Those 21 men are martyrs for Christ; may they be an inspiration for us. Jesus Christ is King!

Prayers for the families of the 21 men.

Tony V said...

They were heroic indeed...but I wish the media wouldn't show the videos, or the photos. It's just what the killers want.

Genty said...

I'm with Tony. The sea of blood was enough. The heroic deaths of these men make me ashamed that I take so casual a view of the life-giving sacraments so readily available to me. God rest their dear souls.

JARay said...

I have not watched the video. I will not watch Islamic brutality. I know that it happened. These men were true martyrs, something that the Islamists know nothing about. I'm sure that Jesus welcomed them into heaven from the moment each one died.

nickbris said...

The early Christians were fed to the lions,crucified in their thousands and burnt as street lighting.

Their faith & love led to Emperor Constantine declaring the whole Roman Empire Christian

William Tighe said...

"Their faith & love led to Emperor Constantine declaring the whole Roman Empire Christian."

Hardly. It was not until 379/381 that the Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the "official religion" of the Empire and withdrew state support for the maintenance of the official pagan cults and the upkeep of their temples. Constantine was baptized only on his deathbed in 337; until that time he was a sympathetic pagan outsider who made various benefactions to the Church, but at the same time sought to take it under his tutelage and direction.

steve jones said...

ISIS would appear to be an American creation and stems from American meddling in the region. That the martyrs are wearing orange is an explicit reference to Guantanamo. It's a measure of the intellectual decadence of the West that we rarely discuss this. Astonishingly I read a thread here a few months ago which claimed that the Regensburg address was an attack on Islam when it was nothing of the sort. The Pope emeritus was questioning the neocon policy towards the region which has begat this violence.

gemoftheocean said...

The videos may well have the exact opposite effect re: what the Islamofascists intended. Maybe it will serve to wake the west up. The NORMAL people, I mean. And not the crypto-Islamist sitting in the White House. I hold him just about as responsible as the cowards in black.

The videos are like forcing the complacent to witness the evil that has been occurring. It's like frog marching the German civilians through the death camps after WWII so they can't later claim "it's all made up and never happened." Once seen, it can not be unseen.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't think I have had a thread here suggesting such a thing!