A Word from Mr. Nunan
Lenten Journey: Ashes
We began our Lenten Journey with Mass on Ash Wednesday. It was a beautiful liturgy, highlighted by a moving homily from Vincent Strand, SJ, the presence of many Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, and a prayerful reception of ashes by our school family.
Ash Wednesday is a powerful—and, at some level, strange—feast. The gospel reading warns against the dangers of hypocrisy… of outward expression not reflective of inward conversion. Jesus’ message is clear: the interior attitude, the authentic compassion, the humble heart, the contrite spirit—these are what matter most. Jesus goes on to target the hypocrites of his day, and he encourages us not to draw attention to ourselves by our actions or appearances, particularly through religious observance or practice.
And yet, on Ash Wednesday, this is precisely what we do. In fact, Ash Wednesday is perhaps the only day in the entire liturgical year when others can tell that we are Catholic simply by looking at us!
But maybe Lent, Ash Wednesday, and all the rest are not just about being Catholic. We, the community of Saint Joseph Prep, are blessed to come from many cultures and creeds, races and religions. We are a richly, wonderfully diverse family of faith, comprised of all kinds of backgrounds, and—as evidenced by our Christmas Program in which prayers from many traditions were read in over a dozen languages—of many tongues.
And maybe the ashes are a sign—a reminder—not for others… but for us. The ashes are a reminder that this life is temporal, that our bodies are temporary. The ashes are a reminder that this world is fleeting, that this reality is passing. The ashes are a reminder that while our souls are eternal, created to live forever with the Triune God who made us, our bodies are destined for dust.
Let this reality not trouble or depress us. Let it free us. Let it free us to focus on what is truly important this Lenten Season: fasting and sacrifice, charity and service, and most especially, prayer. Let us try to leave all the distractions aside—all the noise and negativity, all the comparing and competing, all the frustrations and fears. Let us make every effort to find time for silence and solitude, to create space in our minds and hearts, in our calendars and schedules, for quiet prayer, for simply “being with God.”
Our Chapel is open every day, throughout the day. Encourage your student to join Mr. Nunan and others at 7:30 each morning, simply for ten minutes of peaceful, silent prayer before school begins. Remind your student that he/she can drop by the Chapel during lunch or a free period, or after school, just to have a little down time. Let’s do what we can, both at home and at school, to make this Lenten Season a journey of prayer.
And let’s embrace the words of Ashes, trusting that whatever we offer to God, no matter how broken, will be both pleasing and acceptable, and in knowing that just as the seasons inevitably turn, whatever hurting we might experience, with God’s grace, will be healed:
We offer you our failures,
we offer you attempts,
the gifts not fully given,
the dreams not fully dreamt.
Give our stumblings direction,
give our visions wider view,
an offering of ashes, an offering to you.
Then rise again from ashes,
let healing come to pain,
though spring has turned to winter,
and sunshine turned to rain.
The rain we’ll use for growing,
and create the world anew
from an offering of ashes, an offering to you.
Listen to Ashes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyjaYxXoGv8