This was my first Catholic Ash Wednesday service that I can remember attending. I love it. The preparation. The somber acknowledgment of our own frailty and fallenness. All reminders of how useless everything is without what Jesus did on that cross and three days later.

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Ashed after a long day.

Saying, “Yes, God. I’ve failed you. I need your mercy. Even my best to you is imperfect while I am on this earth.” And then receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus right after acknowledging or own beginnings and physical endings as dust. Receiving Jesus and knowing that His sacrifice saves us from futility. That His sacrifice breathes life and meaning into our existence.

Even the small participation in fasting today. Feeling those moments of slight discomfort, of hunger, and being reminded to think on God and to pray. Thinking about how insignificant this fasting is in comparison to the suffering Jesus endured. Thinking about how our sacrifice is so, so small, but how at the same time, it also connects us with something so much bigger than ourselves and draws our hearts and minds to our Savior.

This is the God that makes beauty from ashes. This is the God that takes that which is broken and makes it whole again. This is the God that beat both sin and death in a single lifetime.

A beautiful season, this Lent is. And I’m really thankful and excited to participate in it more fully than ever before in the Catholic Church.