An Intercultural Ash Wednesday
I discovered that there is a wide array of Ash Wednesday traditions and practices. But the central meaning of these has to do with our humanness, mortality, weakness, and fallenness. When church leaders place ashes on people’s foreheads, they usually say something like, “From dust you were made, and to dust you will return.” This is a quotation from Genesis 3:19, a verse where God delivered to Adam the bad news of what his sin had brought about. Whereas, Adam once enjoyed the reality of deathless life in God’s perfect creation, now his body would die. In time, he would return to the dust from which he was made.
So, ICCN is embracing us into a time of extended contemplation and contrition, as we consider Ash Wednesday is important because it marks the start of the Lenten period leading up to Easter, when Christians believe Jesus was resurrected.
For the first time I will be celebrating a Multicultural Ash Wednesday and we will gather for an unified celebration, for us as novices is a period of growth in a greater understanding of our divine vocation, preparation, development in our religious life.
In this ICCN Stage, we are able to confront with ourselves, with our cultural blindness, biases, or barriers; therefore, it is in this encounter with the stranger that we are challenged to clarify and expand our own identity and therefore the vision of the Kingdom of God. The Will of God and the Values of the Kingdom of God set boundaries to the extent of Incarnation in a culture.
It is of the most extreme importance that Christians from different cultural background experience fellowship to one another whenever an opportunity presents itself, we, as Christians from different cultural backgrounds experience difficulties to communicate effectively or develop strong and meaningful relationships, the need for unity among all Christians and specially we as novices, in this environment of Ash Wednesday should motivate us to overcome these obstacles and to embody The Gospel of Christ’s Mission in our lives. Delight us by your Word, O God. Make us mindful of the beauty that surrounds us in Creation, in one another and in the ways your Church lives the Gospel.
Sr. Alba Luz Mejia Solis
Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY