Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Repenting Is Life Itself

Happy Ash Wednesday to all of you....Er, can you say "happy" Ash Wednesday? Per an earlier post, can you speak of a "good" Lent? Isn't it all about sadness and mourning and denial and repentance and ashes?

Well, no. We should (should, should, should) repent of our sins daily. Hourly, really. Shedding tears over our condition is appropriate even. And we in the Western Church do put ashes on our foreheads this day. We no longer sing "Alleluia," saving that praise for Easter. And fasting can be hard. Giving up vices and pleasures even harder (at least for a skinny guy like me).

But man, it's not all bad. Jesus says, "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. " (Matt. 6:16-18)

But more than that. Repenting is a blessing. A real boon. Having a God who is merciful and is the lover of all mankind--that is good news. The best news. That Christ our Lord has overcome death and sin for us and gives us Himself--not just abstract forgiveness, not just his kind thoughts and warm fuzzies, but Himself to us--that is the best news. Repenting and fasting is not sadness; it is life. It is freedom.

Happy Ash Wednesday!


  1. Mike Baker said...

    ...and don't forget that an aversion to suffering, death, humility, and repentence is a fairly recent addition to Christianity now that we are entertainment-mongers and comfort-seekers.

    We have a faith with happy deaths, a blessed crucifixion, a virgin mother of God, and children of God who are born again of water and Spirit.

    I think we can have room for a "good lent".

    ...but if you prefer, when I wish people well, I wish them a "productive Lent".

  2. Dixie said...

    The Greeks say "kali sarakosti" or "Good Lent!". May yours be that.

  3. -C said...

    I always said, "Blessed Lent!" as a Lutheran - and still do as an Orthodox Christian.


  4. Anastasia Theodoridis said...

    When we pay close enough attention, we notice that every hour we are not repenting, we are slipping backward.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Fr. Hall,
    Here is how to wish a "happy Lent": 'May your sins and iniquities always be before you unto repentance.'"