A Reading of ‘Ash Wednesday’ by T.S. Eliot

To begin the Lenten season, our CNEWA staff took part in a reading of T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Ash Wednesday.” Perhaps viewing it will inspire you to spend more time exploring some artistic discipline that is most meaningful to you:  

“Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John his brother and led them away to a high mountain” (Mt 17:1).

In his message for Lent 2023, Pope Francis reflects on the unique retreat of Jesus on Mount Tabor with his chosen disciples. In this Gospel of the Transfiguration, proclaimed on the Second Sunday of Lent, the pope says, Jesus also wishes to help us depart from “our usual places and our often repetitive and sometimes boring routines.”
Will we go with Jesus? Will we, as the Holy Father says, “allow ourselves to be taken aside by him and to detach ourselves from mediocrity and vanity”?
This week — on Monday, 20 February, in the East, and today, Ash Wednesday, 22 February — the grace of our annual Lenten pilgrimage begins. This holy season is all about conversion along the journey! Will I permit God’s grace to break into my mediocrity and vanity? Will I permit God to do something special with me? Am I willing to give God permission to work through me, not in isolation, but together with others on the journey? How do I give God such permission and what does it look like?
Pope Francis proposes “two paths.” First, we must listen to Jesus. The voice that speaks to the disciples says, “Listen to him” (Mt 17:5). How good are we at listening? The second path is to overcome our many fears and concerns as we journey together with Jesus and in him, and with one another!
This week, as we begin the pilgrimage of the Lenten season, let’s commit time to listening to Jesus and to others who will help us to experience a deep interior conversion of mind, heart and action. Let’s dedicate a few minutes each day listening to God’s Word. Let’s open ourselves to the ways in which art, music and literature can help to break through our own mediocrity, vanity and boring routines.

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