Wednesday - Ash Wednesday - celebrated around the world as the beginning of the Lenten season of prayer - fasting - alms giving. As an older member of the Church the rules of the Lenten Fast no longer apply to me - yet I still fast and abstain from meat products. I am healthy enough and have no dietary restrictions that otherwise dispense me from imposing these rules upon myself. So - no meat - two small meals - was enough to suffice. As a deacon - I spent a large portion of the mid-day visiting nursing homes and senior centers distributing ashes to whomever wanted them. It was interesting that perhaps half of the people who requested ashes were not Catholic - one woman was a self professed Jew - who explained that any prayers and blessings from God - were just fine in her book. The day ended by assisting at Holy Mass in the evening - again distributing ashes to a large group - many who do not attend Sunday Mass regularly - but always show up for their ashes. One young man even approached me after Holy Mass to explain that he arrived late and "did not get his ashes" - easily remedied - he left church very happy - smudged forehead - blessed by God.
God is pleased with any and all actions that bring us closer to Him - to Jesus - to His Holy Spirit. In these 40 days of Lent - each of us is called - by name - from God's lips - to enter into this season with expectant hearts - with open eyes - seeking Him - above all else.