Benefits of Ash Wednesday

Fr Jonathan Whereat, Chaplain

Can you benefit from some self-reflection and some abstinence?

Wednesday 14 February is Ash Wednesday for 2018 – the beginning of the season of Lent in the Christian Calendar.
There are many indicators that most of us need to have both some time to reflect on how we are living our lives and that we would be better off if we abstained from some practices that are habitual.
What are those some of these indicators. Well in the last few years we have heard non- religious inspired recommendations for “fasting” from sugars, alcohol, and technology, the latest one being Feb Fast- pause for a cause.

Why fast?  Health reasons are a good start, and people are often aware that they have many temptations that are “bad” habits. We have such rich food and so much of it we often over consume many products for the short term pleasure they bring. So having a set time that you become more disciplined in saying NO to those “addictions” can only be good.
The second reason can be to raise money for those less well off and who are in need. That too is obvious we have a growing gap between the very rich and the very poor in Australia and globally. So sending a few dollars to those worse off can feel good as well as do some good.

For Christians there are two deeper reasons.

The first being a reminder that our physical is not all we are. We can become obsessed with the physical appearance and the physical pleasures and pains. How we feed and nourish our spiritual life is much more important than our physical health. We can meet people who are very healthy in the body but whose inner life is nasty, hateful, manipulative, abusive etc. So for Christians checking ourselves on how we feed and nourish our Spiritual life and what we do in life is what is important.

The second deeper level is to recognise that many of my excesses not only negatively affect me but also negatively affect other people and the environment at large. We harm ourselves by our “addictions” and bad habits, we also harm others by our unhealthy obsessions, and in so doing we inevitably have a harmful effect on the environment. In the old biblical language this harm was called sin.  People don’t like the word sin or its implications.

When Jesus was asked to say what was central to faith he reminded them of the two great commandments. To love God with our whole being and the love our neighbour as our self. This is well worth reflecting on.

How can we focus on nourishing our spiritual lives from here to Easter? Our own acts of self discipline, providing opportunities to meditate and pray, to read spiritual readings including parts of the Bible, and meeting with others to encourage each other in our spiritual lives.

I invite you to the weekly Holy Communion on Wednesday morning at St Alban’s from 8.00am to 8.20am

Ash Wednesday to Good Friday a beneficial time to examine our lives and to refrain from excessive consumption or overt abuses of power great or small.

Hope you have a beneficial Lent.



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