Sunday, February 10, 2013


(Series) CONVERSATIONS WITH JEFFREY (Written before Jeffrey was Confirmed)
(Encore Post)

Grandma, what’s that black smudge on your forehead?”

“It is a small cross our priest, Father Krempa, put on everyone’s forehead at Church this morning. Today is ‘Ash Wednesday,’ a special day once a year when we start counting 40 more days until Easter Sunday.”

Did Father use a magic marker? Will it ever wash off?”

“He used a mixture of ashes and holy water. Yes, I will be able to wash it off, but it is good to leave it on all day to remind me of what it means. And when people ask about it, I can tell them.”

What does it mean?”

“When Father Krempa made that sign on our foreheads, he said to each person, 'You are dust, and to dust you will return.' That is what God said to Adam after Adam and Eve sinned for the first time. God created man from the dust of the earth and He was letting Adam know that some day he would die because he had sinned and he would be put back into the earth. Before that, Adam didn’t know about death. And since then, everyone’s body has to die, but our souls will live forever. We can read all about that in the first book of the Bible….”

“…which is called Genesis, right?”

“Good, you remembered that, Jeffrey!”

Well, where did Father get the ashes?”

“The ashes are from the burning of the dried up palm leaves that we were given at Church last year on the Sunday before Easter which we call ‘Palm Sunday.’ That was the day all the people who followed Jesus were happy and sang and shouted to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem by waving palm branches. It was sort of like waving flags to welcome someone special, like a king or a president.”

Like thousands of people waved flags in Washington, D.C. at the Inauguration? I saw that on TV. But why do we count 40 days until Easter?”

“We call those 40 days ‘Lent’ from an old English word ‘lencten’, which means spring. Easter is always celebrated in the springtime. Jesus did many miracles and taught important things during that period before He sacrificed His life on the cross for us. Forty is kind of an important number in Christian teaching. After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, He went alone into the wilderness for 40 days to pray and prepare for what God, His Father, wanted Him to do.”

What are we supposed to do during Lent?”

“It is a time for us to think seriously about our Christian lives and what is really important. We should try to pray more and read books about God and ask God to forgive us for the things we have done wrong and ask God to help us do better. Our Church helps us to do that. It is also a time when many Christians decide to give up certain things during those 40 days. These are things that are good in themselves, but we want to let Jesus know that He is more important to us than foods we like and favorite things we do.”

I had to go to school today so I couldn’t go to Mass with you, Grandma. If I did go, would Father Krempa have put the ashes sign on my forehead too even if I'm not Confirmed yet?”

“Sure, Father would have put the ashes sign on your forehead too. The children who attend our Church’s Academy were all there, and Father put the sign on their foreheads. Even on the foreheads of some little children who were carried in their parents’ arms. SACRED HEART is your Church, Jeffrey, since you were baptized there.”

Could I think about something that I especially like and give it up for Lent too so I could let Jesus know I love Him? 

"Of course you could. And it could be something that only you and Jesus know about. Jesus said that when we sacrifice something for Him or do something good we aren't supposed to let everyone know. That when we do something good in secret, God rewards us.

Yeah, that would be like bragging if I told everybody what I was doing. But…what if I forget to do what I promised and kind of slip up--if I couldn't do it for 40 days?

“Not to worry. Jesus knows your heart, Jeffrey. He knows what you want to do for Him, and always lets you start over again. We don’t give up things because of some kind of list of rules, but because we want to come closer to God by learning what pleases Him and what is important in life.”

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