A Time of Fire and Ashes
March 8, 2022, 12:43 PM

Lent is a time for producing ashes.  Ashes are the products of fire.   And fire destroys. Unlike fires that destroy houses, forests, neighborhoods, and towns, the Fire of Lent has the ability to destroy what we cherish the most – our “false sense-of-self.”  Lent is the church’s attempt to allow us time to turn our “false sense-of-self” into ashes.  Arrogance, self-centeredness, bias, deception, and even our illusion of independence and freedom is on the line.  Our ‘true-self’ is found only when we completely rely on God. 

The Fire of Lent is like fire in a steel mill.  That fire’s job is to expose impurities and allow them to rise to the surface so that the impurities can be burned away.  The disciplines of Lent (fasting, alms giving, and prayer) act like matches that ignite that fire.  No discipline….no fire. 

From Scripture, we are reminded that fire has been used reveal our distance from God:  e.g., the fiery sword of the Angel that kept Adam and Eve from returning to the Garden of Eden after trying to be as wise a God;  the fire out of heaven that consumed the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah for their rudeness and inhospitality toward others;  the fire that rained down like hail upon Pharoah because his uncaring heart that  resisted God.

From other parts of Scripture, we are also reminded of the healing that fire brings:  the fire of sacrifices in the temple foreshadowing a person of greater love that was yet to come;  the moral fire of the burning bush that illuminated the face of Moses;  the searing coal that touched the mouth of Isaiah to make him ready to proclaim the coming of God;  the brilliant pillar of fire that guided and protected the Israelites through the dessert;  and the dancing tongues of fire that bridged all division when the Holy Spirit perched on the heads of the disciples at Pentecost.   

During this Lenten Season, we encourage you to prayerfully focus on all that which needs to be purified in your life, and that which needs to be made new in our world including: (1) the fire of self-centeredness; (2) the fire of war;  (3) the fire of hunger;  (4) the fire of racism;  (5) the fire of environmental desecration of the earth.  We also lift up on the altar the life-giving fires of (6) confession, and (7) forgiveness.  May all these fires burn to their completion in your life through God’s Love. 

With prayerful encouragement,

Fr. John Meulendyk