March 12, 2010

Be Our Guest / Christa Naville

Actions are the way to share our faith

All my life, I have wished that I could wear ashes during the day on Ash Wednesday.

I loved the thought of walking around with ashes on my forehead in public. No one would have to guess what day it was and what religion I belonged to. It would be literally written on my face!

When I was growing up, we lived in a small mountain community. The priest for our parish had to drive 35 miles to come and say Mass. Needless to say, we had one Mass on Ash Wednesday and it was in the evening.

I used to try to keep the ashes on my forehead through the night so that I could wear them to school the next day. It never really worked.

The cross of ashes ended up looking faded, and not like a cross at—just a smudge.

Now, as an adult with a family of my own, I still find myself wishing to wear ashes during the day on Ash Wednesday.

I could go to Mass in the morning with our children, but my husband would be left out. To me, church is all about family so that is not an option.

This year, I found myself unable to receive ashes at all. I had an accident while shoveling snow on the day before Ash Wednesday that left me unable to do anything but lay in a dark room with my eyes closed in pain for a couple of days.

Ash Wednesday came and went. I felt so out of the loop. I had missed the beginning of the Lenten season. I had spent time preparing and anticipating the coming of Lent, and instead found myself waking up saying “Is Lent here? Did I miss it?”

Fortunately, I don’t need to wear an outward symbol such as ashes to proclaim to the world that it is indeed Ash Wednesday and that I am a Catholic. My interactions with others can proclaim that truth louder than any symbol.

What I do or don’t do speaks volumes. Do I choose to “die to myself” so that Christ can live in me? Do I let Christ speak through me or do I selfishly crowd him out in order to have my way?

Can every person that I encounter, not only on Ash Wednesday but throughout my lifetime, see Christ shining through me or do I block his light? Am I continually crucifying Christ over and over by my actions toward others or am I like Veronica, stepping out into the street apart from the angry crowd, not worried about what they might think of her or what might happen to her to wipe the blood and sweat from Jesus’ face?

During this Lenten season, let us all remember that it is not as important to wear the symbol as it is to be the symbol.

(Christa Naville is a member of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Jeffersonville.)

Local site Links: