John Paul II Foundation

Ash Wednesday at the Polish Church in Aulnay sous Bois in France

This Wednesday is different than all the others.  Once in a year, we gather in the Church to start an important liturgical period that is Lent.  Lent is the time when in a special way, we are called to convert, to have a greater zeal in prayers, and to be generous in Almsgiving, for a better preparation for Easter.

We are beginning the Lent season.  Despite the late hours, being tired, having ugly, cold and rainy weather, a lot of people gathered to participate in the evening Mass.  Most likely some of us already decided how they will go through the Lent time.  For everyone have in the heart the vision of this season, different practices for Lent, so they could, in the best way, prepare for the most important celebrations in the entire liturgical year, when we will rejoice in the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  To better experience the Lent season, we need to understand what this time should mean for each of us.  Today’s Liturgy is very helpful.  It is very unique and very powerful in its symbols.  When we are approaching priests, we lean our heads and the priest is putting ashes saying “Repent and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Especially, the second sentence is very deep and reflects what the Lent truly means.  However, this sentence is not what we often think, it is not about death, but in fact, it is about our existence, that we are nobody as ashes and dust.   This sentence “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” comes from the Old Testament Book of Genesis.  These words were stated to the man living in the paradise that is to Adam and Eve.  So, God stating this sentence is referring to the dust that comes from paradise.   For that reason, we can understand this sentence as “You are from paradise and to the paradise you will return.”  “You are from the earth of paradise and you shall return to the earth of paradise”, as this is the place from which you come from.  And what is the paradise? – our Pastor, Fr.  Jarosław Koch TCr was asking during the homily. – Heaven is a place where there is no pain, no suffering, and most of all there is neither evil nor sin.  It is a place where in a special way, we can feel God’s presence.  During the Lent season, let us try to get closer to God, to experience Him in a unique way.  Let us put a side everything what stops us in meeting with Him.  Every year, the Church reminds us during the Lent season about prayer, fasting and Almsgiving, but maybe that is not enough for us…? Maybe we are not using this time efficiently…?  Thus, today on this Ash Wednesday, we ask our Lord thought the intercession of the Holy Spirit to find strength and willingness to zeal.  So, we will not give up easily finding excuses in our fatigue, enormous amount of work at our jobs and at our homes.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit, to be able to do more than usually and to have the desire, as in paradise, in a special way to meet God.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us through the winded paths of conversion.  And accepting the ashes on our heads, let us humble ourselves in front of our Lord, Jesus Christ, so He could lift us up one day.

 By: Elisabeth Noster