What if we could get ashes at every Mass in Lent? It might help.
Why are crowds drawn to receive ashes?
To be touched?
To acknowledge the human experience of gritty, dry, and dark in a communal way?
My dear friend and mentor showed me this: When gritty, dry, and dark shows up, acknowledge it and turn to the Father. Tell Him: “I am a sinner. Let me be your servant.”
One other thing about the story of the prodigal son:
The older son shut down; been there, done that. But the father took the step to repair the offense his son perceived. I noted the directness and intimacy between the father and the older son,
after a long time of working it out together.
Shutting down and cutting off are the opposite of the Holy Trinity. Taking the step—getting with that other person and saying, “I am concerned that I offended you. Will you forgive me?” Hang in there with the brother or sister, beyond the automatic “That’s okay” response and gently press a little further for an “I-message”, asking again, “Do you forgive me?” This encounter may not always come round right, but it is a good thing you have done. Lent is a good time to do it.
Kathleen McKeown is a mother and grandmother who lives in Augusta, Georgia.