Ash Wednesday 2013 Foraging

My other main post for today is here.

I've "hungry" today and so I've been foraging around, being willing to be led wherever the Holy Spirit and the Good Shepherd take me.

I've picked up a few tasty morsels here and there, to feed on, savour and share with you this Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, which begins our 40 days journey to Easter.  

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads, as a sign of Repentance. 

The ashes are made from burning the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.

This extract is taken from the Lent Retreat

"Why Ashes? We can see some references about it in the Old Testament, it is a very old symbol of our faith, and it is recognized for a signal of repentance and humility.
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)
“By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19)

Ash Wednesday is all about Repentance, Renewal, and Community."
Extract below comes from this reflection here.
"This motif of power in weakness pervades all Christian life St Paul's thorn in the flesh is the locus for the Lord’s power to be made manifest, in his own life, and  for the sake of others.

We don’t know what Paul’s ‘thorn’ was, and we don't know what goes on completely in other peoples lives but every encounter with another person is a place for potential grace and transformation and a place where the creative power of God can be made visible.

Image source


We all have wounds, weaknesses, and  they can cripple and /or create us.  For St Paul, the answer to the question, ‘Who am I?’ was most profoundly answered by a God who is more profoundly present in our wounds rather than in our triumphs.
None of us can never attain perfection. Neither can the Church. In all our strivings we have to admit where we go wrong and sin and ask for forgiveness and try to be healers, albeit wounded healers. True shepherds don’t scatter, but gather. 

This year of faith calls for humility and compassion.

A Lenten examen below taken from Ashes to Glory from Ignatian 

I thank God.

I say to the Lord: I am content with what I am and have. Thank you for stars and universes, for mountains and oceans. Thank you for health and home and work, for those I love and those who love me. Thank you that I know Jesus Christ and am his—for the Church, and sacraments, and hope in eternal life. And thank you for this day.

I ask for light.

Let me see myself and my behavior the way the Holy Spirit has been seeing me, who am God’s splendid creature, adopted and “set free in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

I look for God in my life.

I ask what I have done for love—love of God, of others, and of myself. If I have decided to change a habit or to grow a virtue, I give myself an account.

I face what’s wrong.

I accept responsibility for what I have done or not done, rejoicing in the good and repudiating the bad. I do not blame circumstances, upbringing, or others.

I determine what to do now.
I see what I can do to love God better, grateful for what Jesus Christ is doing in me. I watch where the Spirit is leading me.

The Lenten practice of fasting and abstinence is often misunderstood and can be ill-applied when it becomes nothing more than a pious act of devotionalism, devoid of any inner gratitude and connection to the heart.

  There are some fine suggestions for what we might fast on during Lent, apart from food, from Fr Austin Fleming At A Concord Pastor Comments here and as always, his prayers during Lent are a gift not to be missed.

I love this beautiful image and quote for today from Franciscan Brother Mickey McGrath (from his facebook page,) with the words of St Francis de Sales .
Brother Mickey also put this timely message on his page :

"Go To Your Inner Room And Seek The Quiet Peace Of Lent."

I came across this African male initiation tale in a book I got from the library on why stories matter. 

Undoubtedly, at first glance, taking it on face value, it is about male initiation and also about our relationship with nature but I'm reflecting also on the way it maybe has a message on how we approach Lent and maybe even the way God may work in our lives and in the world.

I think it ties in well with Fr Dan Horan's reflection on Lent and Creation, for today from his blog, Dating God from here.

 I'll leave it open ... :-))

 Image source

How An African Hunts.

 A young man wanted to hunt game so he visited an old hunter and asked him what he should do. The old hunter told him,
" Do not eat breakfast, do not eat supper, then you will catch the animals."

The young hunter came away thinking to himself,
" The silly old fool. What does that matter, except I won't have any energy to chase them."

So he ate a good breakfast and took food with him as he set out for the wild forests and savannahs. Days of searching and tracking the animals folllowed but the young hunter caught nothing. He returned to the old hunter to tell him.

" Have you eaten breakfast ? Have you eaten supper ? repeated the old one.

" Well, yes, I have", confessed the young man.

Don't eat breakfast, don't eat supper, then you will catch something."

The young hunter now took this advice as a last resort; so desperate was he to succeed.

He set out on an empty stomach into the wild with just a spear.
Days went by, as he slept under cover or in trees, hunting by day and night.
He was hungry; he became thinner and more desperate.

Then one early morning just as he felt he had no more strength left in his body, he saw a gazelle. He followed it through scrub and small trees, aimed his spear, hit it in the chest and brought it to the ground.

 He proudly dragged it back to the village, to share with his family and tribe.
He viisted the old hunter again to tell him of his success.

The old man nodded .
" The animals can smell when you are close to death and will sacrifice themselves for you."

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