An Ash Wednesday Reflection

St. Therese of Lisieux said, as quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

As we begin the journey of Lent, this quote from “The Little Flower” resonates as a reflect on how time spent at Nazareth Farm really changed my understanding of prayer to be more focused on a relationship with Jesus. Because Ash Wednesday is a time for introspection and fasting, it is a great time to bring more focus to our prayer life. The Lenten season is an opportunity to re-set our priorities and look to God, asking for his help to unblock those things that prevent our gazing at the Lord. In addition to giving up something this Lent such as chocolate, soda, or TikTok, what if we prioritized our relationship with Jesus by asking him some direct questions: “What are you asking of me, Lord? What would you like to talk to me about this Lent? In what way can you transform my heart and reveal yourself to me?” Partnership with the Lord is the foundation of prayer and the foundation for everything in our life. We can seek union with Jesus by making more room in our hearts to learn and understand his plan for our life. This journey of Lent is an amazing opportunity to strip away the noise and the clutter and, through simplicity, focus on our relationship with Jesus to move more deeply into oneness with the One that made us. What a gift this Lent if we grow in that oneness.

The season of Lent can be a springtime for the soul–a time for us to allow the Holy Spirit into our lives to do some “spring cleaning,” restoring our desire for him and taking away anything that is out of order. Our friendship with Jesus can lead us to open and transform our hearts through his tenderness which guides us into a deeper union with Him. Let Jesus guide and lead us instead of letting so many other worldly things be our guide.

But how can we make space in our busy lives to get into the Lord’s gaze? One of the greatest and most powerful gifts we have in the Catholic Church is Eucharistic Adoration. When you are there in Jesus’ gaze during Adoration, other things melt away and his desire for us can become clearer. Saint John of the Cross says the gaze of God is active, “for God’s gaze is to love and to work favors. His gaze is love and love does things. God’s gaze works four blessings in the soul: it cleanses the person, it makes her beautiful, it enriches her and it enlightens…making her like himself.” So how do we lock eyes with Jesus? Seeing ourselves the way Jesus sees us is one of the most beautiful ways to journey with Jesus this Lent. As Pope Benedict XVI explained, “Communicating with Christ demands that we gaze on him, allow him to gaze on us, listen to him, get to know him. Adoration is simply the personal aspect of Communion. God is waiting for us in Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Let us not leave him waiting in vain! Let us not, through distraction and lethargy, pass by the greatest and most important thing life offers us.” Visit Him, Follow Christ and there is no doubt you’ll be changed for the better this Lent.

Ann McElhinney, Board Member and Parent Volunteer