Home Day 1: Ash Wednesday – “Rend your hearts, not your garments.”

Day 1: Ash Wednesday – “Rend your hearts, not your garments.”

Joel 2:12-18

Would you want to know where your fears, your anger, your jealousy, your pain, your shame, your unforgiveness, your lack of trust, your low self-esteem, your arrogance, your infidelity and your pride comes from? Would you want to know where our xenophobia as a people come from? Would you want to know why we turn our eyes away from the suffering of others? Would you want to know why sins claim permanent residency to our life or world? I know I would want to know. If I were told where all these feelings and emotions stem from, would I want to visit there and do something about them?

All these feelings and interior movements happen in the heart, yours and mine. This is a place we rarely or hardly visit. Yet, this is where the battle of who we are and what we can become take place. Whether our life is or become a hell or a heaven happens here and is determined here. This is the battleground of our humanity.

During these 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, the Lord invites us to rend our hearts, the engine room of our life. For many of us, our hearts may be covered with dust and weeds due to lack of visits and care. For many of us, we may not know how our hearts look like anymore or we may need a compass or a GPS to locate our hearts. During these days, let us do some thorough cleaning of our hearts and take out unnecessary fears, doubts, shame, laziness, sin, and all those things that dehumanize us. Let us allow the freshness and the soothing air of love, forgiveness of ourselves and others, kindness, gratitude, compassion and peace to visit our hearts.

Our hearts can live without sin. Our hearts can live without hate. Our hearts can live without fear. Our hearts can live without greed. Let us in this Lenten season prepare our hearts for battle. Let us starve our vices and feed our virtues. Let us give permanent residency to love, to faith, to hope, to joy and to peace into our hearts.

Rend your hearts! Rend your heart! Prophet Joel reminds us. Let us rend our hearts to see what thoughts, feelings and actions visit our hearts the most. We are and we become what resides in our hearts the most.

May God give us the courage to clean our heart and to encounter Him. Do pray for me. I will be praying for you. May God bless you all.

Author: Peter Chidolue, S.J.

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