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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Ash Wednesday 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

“Remember man that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.”

With these words the priest imposes ash upon our brows and, perhaps, leaves us feeling a little hopeless. What a pitiful lot is ours: we are weak and prone to failing, we suffer through a short life and then depart, seemingly into nothingness.

We might cry out with Job “What is man, that thou dost make so much of him, and that thou dost set thy mind upon him?” (Job 7:17) Yet Job's question admits a crucial point. Man might be nothing, but God has put his interest in him. If man is mere dust then how blessed is that dust which is raised up to the attention of the infinite Good? It is like a pauper being put upon a golden throne. 

But what if God bestowed on us a greater good?

Ash Wednesday is really the beginning of the preparation for Good Friday, the day when Jesus offered himself up, in obedience to the Father's will, that he might offer an act of absolute love so great that it eradicated the offence committed by men in their sins against God. By becoming incarnate as man, God gave man the power to break out of the sinful world and be possessed completely by the Good for which he was made.

Of course, the ultimate manifestation of Divine Love upon the Cross was found at the centre of immense suffering, of needless cruelty, of pointless hate. Yet from this darkest moment God brought forth the purest light. So it can be with us. In all our sufferings and sorrows we can unite ourselves with Christ on the Cross and so share that love which he made manifest then and continues to manifest now. This is our purpose: to become one with that act of love which made us, sustains us and saves us. The only way to do this is through Christ and his Cross.

If this idea of being caught up in Divine Love seems as odd to you as it does me, then perhaps we might make a particular effort this Lent to make sacrifices for others; maybe then we'll begin to capture a sense of what it means to love, and indeed, to be loved, which is after all the first step to Calvary.

Image: Seghers, The Patient Job

Br Jordan Scott O.P.

Br Jordan Scott O.P.

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