And So Lent Begins…
“The black ash is wet and cold. A practiced thumb stamps us with two intersecting lines of burnt palms from last year. Those gathered at Mass walk back up the aisle to their places as we await the dismissal. Looking around, I see so many faces: young, old, teens, mothers, fathers, and single people. Some faces I recognize from Sunday Mass; some faces I don’t. We join in singing the recessional hymn as the priest progresses slowly toward the doors of the church. Then we go out into the morning air to start our day, marked with the sign of Christ. School and work will begin now that this liturgy is over, and the black marks on our foreheads will be a cause for discussion, for double takes, and for witness.” Julianne B. McCullagh, Director of Family Life Ministry at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Lewisville, Texas.
A gift of time, contemplation and quiet
Every year in the middle of a week in late winter we go to Church and have the ashes smudged upon our clean foreheads. Every year the churches are filled to overflowing with the regulars and the not-so-regulars. Why do we still undergo this ritual of ashes that is centuries old, as old as the prophets who pleaded with God’s people to turn back from sin and toward God?
We go because we need to go, because at least once a year we need to be reminded that our deepest hunger is the hunger for God.
Lent is a gift that the Church in her wisdom celebrates every year. It is a gift of time, a gift of contemplation, and a gift of quiet so that we may listen to the Word, that whispers to us to come back to the God who created us. It encourages us to turn away from the noise and over-indulged appetites so that we may understand the hunger that can be filled – with the grace of God – only by prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor.
So we go to our parish churches once a year to have crosses signed upon our faces. It is in this same manner that, when the Gospel is proclaimed, we take our right thumbs, trace three crosses, and pray: may the word of God be in my mind, may the word of God be on my lips, and may the word of God be in my heart. The prayer of the whole Church, the Body of Christ, is that each year the sign of the cross seeps a little deeper and moves us toward fuller conversion toward the light of Christ.’
So, as we return to school and enter this solemn religious period let us actively reflect and begin the season of Lent asking that God be with us as we witness our faith.
Ms Anne Marie Dolan, Pastoral Coordinator
Lenten Reconciliation Service
On Wednesday 28th March we will hold our annual Lenten Reconciliation Service in Clongowes. Led by the Rector, Fr Michael Sheil SJ the whole school will come together in the Sports Hall at 9.15pm for a 40-minute liturgy exploring the nature of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the need for forgiveness in our lives. At the conclusion of the liturgy, Rhetoric will be offered the opportunity to receive the Sacrament through making their individual confessions. Over the course of the following few weeks students from the other years will come to the Boys’ Chapel during their RE class period to avail of the Sacrament on an individual basis.