Ash Wednesday calls on each of us to “Rend your heart” 
by Rosemary Mulvihill, CSJ

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”
Isaiah 58: 6-9

Perhaps it is not just a coincidence that this year, in the same week as we celebrate Valentine’s Day –the day of the heart, that we also celebrate Ash Wednesday –the beginning of the season of Lent when we are called upon to return to God with our whole heart.  Lent – a time to recall our Baptism, a time to remember that we are beloved children of God, a time to deepen our faith.

In fact, the Scripture on Ash Wednesday calls on each of us to “Rend your heart” i.e. to tear it open, to rip it. Isn’t that what has happened to us throughout this year?  Our hearts have been torn open by so many tragedies: aspects of Covid-19 –illness, death, loss of income, food insecurity, divisions, racism exposed. The news each day tears at our hearts and hopefully evokes from us deep compassion.

Surely that is what is being asked of each of us this Lent, to work towards sharing our bread, responding to the homeless and those in need. The song by Briege O’Hare, OSC and Marie Cox, RSM reminds us of this: Pour Our Compassion and Mercy

So often we hear or ask:  “What are you doing for Lent?”  or “What are you giving up?”
Perhaps the questions should really be:
“How can I consciously strengthen my connections with a loving God?”
“What might help me be more attentive to the inner promptings of my heart?”
With or without the outward sign of ashes – it is about the inner resolve.

We are indeed beloved children of God, so are all those others around us who struggle today. Can we become living signs of God’s loving presence? Can our hearts readily embrace those who need our compassion?  This is the season to change our hearts.

Change our Hearts  
Rory Cooney Teresa Donohoo Gary Daigle

May we encourage one another during these weeks to recognize and respond to being beloved children of God – for that is who we are!

Rosemary Mulvihill, CSJ