Lenten Reflection: Ashes, Fasting, Fish and Climate Change Jeanie Graustein, Environmental Justice Coordinator, Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry, Archdiocese of Hartford
We begin Lent marked with ashes, the ancient and visible sign of repentance and mourning.
The ashes call us to a change of heart, to new ways of living, thinking and acting — to conversion. Pope Benedict tells us: “To be converted means to change direction — not for a slight adjustment, but a true and total change of direction. Conversion is to go against the current, where the “current” is a superficial lifestyle, inconsistent and illusory.”
A major illusion of our current lifestyle is that we are independent of the rest of God’s creation and can treat it as we wish. These ashes remind us that we are part of God’s creation. We are dust from dust, carbon-based life made from the earth, from elements created by exploding stars as the universe unfolded at God’s command.
Carbon combines easily with many other elements to make possible the diversity of biological life on which we depend. Other creatures sustain our lives and, when we die, our bodies return to the earth, the elements are recycled to continue to processes of life.
The ashes on our foreheads are a sign of our humility [from the same root word as human and humus - soil] and of our need to re-establish right relationship with other creatures and with God. We are the one creature...