Reflection: On the journey from Ashes to Hope
So many stories are told, aren’t they? The voices of people we have never met can become woven into the personal fabric of our lives and into the welcoming, compassionate spaces offered by our various ministries. Some encounters are gentle and practical, while others come abruptly as ‘Breaking News’.
We hear and retell the stories of those whose lives are literally or symbolically ‘in ashes’. We hear and retell the stories of hope and possibility, as good people do what they can to respond to the needs of others. Within Mercy Ministry Companions, our Community Service, Education, and Health and Aged Care Ministries hear and tell many stories of hope and new life, emerging from the depths of distress and disadvantage.
A metaphor for the time of Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22, could be that of going on a yearly journey – a journey from ASHES TO HOPE for us personally, for our ministries, for our world. Hope is a value we hold dear in our various ministries. Hope and its ‘companion values’ of compassion and justice, inspired our founders to keep on going when their dreams were in danger of being shattered. As people of hope, we too strive to make a difference in the lives of others through our small acts of kindness and our professional responses to vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
In order to become the best people we can be, it can be helpful to take some time for a personal and professional ‘stocktake’. The five weeks of Lent leading into Holy Week and Easter can provide that opportunity for each one of us to stop and reflect. Each of us likely has a story which has taken or is taking us on a journey from ashes to hope. Our reflective practice can be enriched if we provide opportunities to share our insights and identify the ‘roadblocks’ to our continued personal and professional growth. A journey shared can help us see options which may be clouded by our sometimes limited vision.
There are many resources which can help us make this journey through Lent towards Easter. You may wish to access some of the resources listed here:
- Mercy International Association’s Lenten Series for 2023
The Mercy International Association’s (MIA) series has the theme of ‘Journey’. There will be a recorded video prayer session each Wednesday, as well as written Lenten reflections each Monday and Friday. Each video session will be hosted by a different member of our global Mercy world, and each written reflection will be prepared by the Mercy Emerging Leaders Fellows.
Register here to receive the MIA online resources.
Click here to access a reflection from MIA for use on Ash Wednesday.
- The Archdiocese of Brisbane has a small booklet with daily reflections for Lent and Easter entitled ‘From Ashes to Hope’.
To obtain copies of this booklet please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Garratt Publishing have a Lenten Program for 2023 authored by Fr Christopher Monaghan CP and entitled “God is on the journey, too”. For further information please contact garrattpublishing.com.au
The following Lenten prayer is taken from this booklet, page 6.
Loving God, as we begin this Lenten journey, we pray for open hearts and minds so that we can use this precious time to grow in discipleship as we accompany Jesus on the road to Jerusalem.
As companions on the journey, may we nurture each other by compassionate and attentive listening and by carrying each other’s burdens where we can.
May we journey with hope-filled hearts, knowing that we are not alone, for you are always with us. Amen.
Annette Schneider RSM