“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.”