Ash Wednesday in our time in history is an opportunity for me to fast and pray for guidance in a very troubled world.
In Pope Francis’ great encyclical on climate change and inequality, Laudato Si, our church’s leader summons each of us to deep reflection on the crises of our time: the deadly inequality among our sisters and brothers and the destruction of our earthly home.
The pope rightly points out that the two crises are intertwined – our focus on consumerism and status, and the destruction of our planet that follows. We must care for the suffering of others in our world today – and we must care for the suffering of the earth, “Our Common Home.”
As I stand before the altar of God on Ash Wednesday receiving ashes on my head, I want to heed the pope’s words and understand what I am doing to foster inequality and environmental degradation.
Do I make alms giving a top household budget priority? Do I make sacrifices (not just give from my surplus) to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked and heal the sick? Do I waste electricity? Can I live more simply?
This Lent is an opportunity for deep conversion…a turning of my heart. It is a chance for a thorough examination of my conscience so I live the Gospel as outlined in Laudato Si.
God will provide the grace for the conversion, if I am open to God’s movements within me.
Jim Wayne is a board member of the Passionists Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Office, state legislator, and author of The Unfinished Man. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.