Reflection on Ash Wednesday

by Percival J. Meris on February 25, 2009

IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC LITURGICAL CALENDAR, today marks the beginning of Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday. This is a day that reminds us that “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.”

In the paraliturgical service I attended this morning, the priest who gave the homily mentioned that “we are nothing, and we shall return to dust from where we came.” I hope that this is just an expression that is not to be taken literally. If taken literally, I would beg to disagree because we are not “nothing” but somebody that has a special place in God’s heart.

We are spirit.

The expression “we are dusts and unto dust we shall return” refers to our physical selves. The true nature of man is that he is a spirit in essence, made unto the image of God. We are not our bodies. When we die, we really do not die, but merely shed off our bodies, worn throughout the duration of our earthly lives. Therefore, we should not fear death, for death does not fall upon us. We continue to live, because the spirit is life, and life is life. Life cannot die, because life is not death.

During our earthly lives, we are given opportunity to enhance our spirits through the cultivation of our souls. Soul and spirit are not synonymous. The soul consists of the mind, the will, and the emotion. The mind is the seat of thought. It is father to the will and emotion. Whatever thought our mind produces generates a corresponding emotion that propels the body into action. It is through the power of the will that we choose what thoughts to produce and entertain in our minds.

Our souls shape us.

Good thoughts generates good emotions that in turn leads to good actions. Good actions produces good results in our lives. Conversely, bad thoughts generate the corresponding emotions, actions, and results. If during our lifetimes we have been conditioned to think good thoughts or trained our wills to produce good thoughts, then we become good men. Good men possess good souls.

Good or bad, our souls shape our spirits accordingly. At the time of death, whatever state of mind finds us at that point of separation of body and spirit remains to be what we are after death. Our state of souls at the point of death determines whether we after death are in heaven, in hell, or in between. Since we are spirits, shaped by the soul, the cultivation of our souls during our lifetime leaves a lasting footprint on the kind of persons we are in this life and hereafter.


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