Ash Wednesday: A Call for Justice
BY OLGA M. SEGURA | February 17, 2021
Ash Wednesday – Today’s Readings
Reflexión en Español
BONUS VIDEO: Preparing for Lent: Bullet Journaling Exercise
“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God.”
We begin this Lenten season in our now normalized cycle of suffering. More than 465,000 people in the United States have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Americans are unemployed. People are struggling to pay rent and feed their families. These tragedies have shaped who we are as a society, yet we are struggling to define what it means to collectively mourn as a nation and Church surrounded by so much death and systemic state violence.
During such turbulent times, how can we persevere in our work for justice while also remembering the power of Christ on the cross?
Every year we mark the start of our Lenten season on Ash Wednesday. We begin a period where we reflect on our sins, we mourn Christ’s sacrifice, and we think about death and hope.
Yet death has surrounded us for the past year, and so, this year, Ash Wednesday must also be a call to “gather the people, notify the congregation; Assemble the elders, gather the children.” We must mourn the dead and continue to fight for justice, continue to align ourselves with the holy work of those marching on the ground, and go forth and be “ambassadors of Christ.”
Using this video, Preparing for Lent: Bullet Journaling Exercise, as a guide, or on your own, consider these questions as we begin the Lenten season:
- How will you commit yourself to justice during Lent, continuing to align yourself “with the holy work of those marching on the ground?”
- What steps or sacrifices do you need to make to follow through with this commitment?
Olga M. Segura is the opinion and culture editor at the National Catholic Reporter and the author of Birth of A Movement: Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church. Segura was a keynote speaker at the 2020 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.
Olga M. Segura es editora de opinión y cultura de “National Catholic Reporter” y autora del libro (en inglés) titulado “Birth of a Movement: Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church.”
Thank you for the creative way you are encouraging me to be pro-active for social justice and being hands and feet for Christ who paid the ultimate price on the cross so that we are all justified through the shedding of his blood.
1. I will commit to finding the right project for me. I have a very strong calling to serve towards social justice abs I will pray that the right project comes my way. In the meantime, I will continue teaching about and to those on the margins.
2. I will commit to nightly meditation & prayer to come to more clarity in this specific subject.
I live in Canada. This Lent I am going to learn more about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) in Canada.
“Gather the people, notify the congregation; Assemble the elders, gather the children.”
In this time where we have been forced — out of love for others — to refrain from gathering, this phrase from Joel 2 strikes with particular power. Thank you for reminding us that even though it be virtual and physically distant, we are still one gathering in this fight for justice.
“Justice, justice alone shall you pursue, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD, your God, is giving you.” (Deut. 16:20).
This Lenten season has brought about many personal and professional changes in my life. I could go back seven years ago when m father died suddenly of a heart attack and I chose to return to my hometown to care for my mother. it also brought about a change in career from a spiritual director at a Diocese to a mission Leader in a major Catholic hospital health system. Fast forward to the fact that this past November my mother died from complications of covid, selling the family house, getting covid myself, retiring from my position, and moving back to my adopted hometown to be with my wife. I look forward to this Lenten season as a time to reflect on how to be more faithful, with fewer material possessions, and a kinder and gentler person. It’s a time to reflect on my God-given wisdom to use my time talents and gifts in service to the church and community.
Some challenges and work to be done in becoming a disciple of Jesus lie ahead for me this Lent. Renew my commitment to justice as I sort of ‘burn away” my old self and walk with Jesus in all I do trying to find the right path to God!
I will continue working on the Faith and Racial Healing, a racism program from JustFaith Ministries, which I recently began facilitating remotely to a small parish group. Time management with regard to other commitments will be the key.
Planet and mankind are thirsting and hungering for justice.
This Lenten season I’m trying to be quiet and to eat less.