This blog post was originally published by Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School on February 14, 2018.
Today, as the western Christian world celebrates Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent, we are confronted with one of simplest signs left in our common life: that dark smudge of ash on our forehead.
The very idea of a sign, a thing that is used to signify something else and make it present to us, is a difficult concept. Signs explain and establish relationship. We know this when we use words like a subtraction sign or an addition sign. They are words the point to a new value based on the relationship of what they mediate.
Many of us will observe this Lent by the sign of subtraction – we will choose not to drink or look at social media or eat chocolate or eat meat. Some of us will observe this Lent by the sign of addition – we will be more diligent in prayer or we will read spiritually edifying books or we will be intentional in giving to the needy.
However, at their root, these are signs of conversion and anticipated transformation. These signs are to indicate the relationship between who you are now and who you might become. They are signs of a change of heart and a change of mind. We are to fast, to pray, and to do righteous work; visible reminders that call us to examine ourselves and to make amends for the sinful and broken areas of our life, to move beyond self-righteousness and self-sufficiency, and to reconcile those areas of our life where we have not accepted God’s grace.
These are not the only signs of transformation in our lives and that of our communities. Education, too, is a sign of transformation; it points to a new future different from the past. That is our goal at Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School: to be a sign of new and flourishing relationships for our students and our community.
With my prayers for a peaceful and productive Lenten season,
Fr. Jon Chalmers