Today begins our 40 day Lenten journey towards the very summit of our Christian faith, the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This season is set aside for fasting, prayer, and almsgiving so that our lives may be converted and we walk ever closer with God.
As you all know, these last few days have been especially filled with historic events. Today, Ash Wednesday our Holy Father made his first public appearance since his announcement on Monday. Fortunately I don't have classes today so I was able to attend both the general audience and the celebration of Holy Mass at St. Peter's basilica. I'd like to leave with you all a few of my impressions from today's event.
Ash Wednesday started for me early this morning. I made the traditional Station Church pilgrimage walk from the North American College to Santa Sabina, the first station church. The priests from the college celebrated Mass and distributed ashes. Since I didn't have class I took my time walking back to the college winding my way through the streets of Rome with a typically American black cross of ashes on my forehead (the Italians don't put the ashes on their forehead, but rather sprinkled upon the top of their head).
|I ran into a friend from Aquinas College|
Then, he simply did what he has done his whole life for the Church. He broke open the word and taught us. He led us through a beautiful Lectio Divina on Sunday's Gospel reading where Jesus is led into the desert and tempted. If you get a change you should read it. (though it has not been entirely translated yet) At the heart of the Pope's talk he held up for us three examples of radical conversion from the 20th century.
Leaving the audience hall, I couldn't help but be a bit emotional, the Pope who I had known throughout my teenage years and adult life was saying goodbye. I don't have words yet to describe all of this, just simply a few thoughts. . .
Walking home from St. Peter's tonight, I was left with a feeling of deep gratitude for the great humility of Pope Benedict. He is very much in the same line as St. John the Baptist who declared that 'He must increase but I must decrease' (John 3:30) These are truly exiting days. I'm blessed to be able to be in Rome for these events that will transpire of the next few weeks. But most importantly, let us prepare ourselves for a worthy celebration of the Easter mysteries by entering deeply into the holy season of Lent. And as the Holy Father said, "Let us now return to prayer..."
"Repent and believe in the Gospel"
"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return"