You Are Dust

“You are dust and to dust you shall return.”

These are the words said to every human presenting himself for ashes on every Ash Wednesday.  They are a reminder to us, on the first day of our season of penance and atonement, that our lives on this earth are temporary, or temporal, our bodies but vessels for our eternal souls.

By these words, we know that our bodies should not be our primary concern, but our souls, the spirits given to us by God, the Father, our Creator while in the privacy of our mother’s womb.  Our souls and their purification, THEIR salvation, is why we willingly suffer corporally, or by the body.  Strange in this era of health obsession and worship of the human form, but good health is a gift, not a right, and certainly not part of a Lenten Promise unless done as a sacrifice in the name of God.

We make a Lenten Promise, a sacrifice or daily effort, to work on the condition of our relationship with God.  As children, we “give up” chocolate or cursing.  As adults, we do the same, or go to Daily Mass or say a daily Rosary, but with a full understanding that this is not a cute, old tradition, but a serious effort to begin to understand purification of the soul,.  The refiner’s fire comes after earthly life, but Lenten sacrifices and piety prepare us for that cleansing in a way as to lessen its need.

And so we begin.

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