A Thought and A Hymn for Ash Wednesday

As I have spent many hours the last few days rocking a feverish 2 year old, I realized how easy it is for everything to come to a grinding halt when your little one really needs you. There is nothing I would rather do than put my cool cheek against his warm one as I rock and sing quietly to him. Instead of doing playdough, unloading drawers, or climbing bookshelves, he wants me to hold him and to be quiet and still. He is soothed by resting on me.

As I have been contemplating the beginning of Lent, I realized that I am just like my 2 year old. Often whirring around at a dizzying pace, sometimes disregarding those around me in pursuit of my mission (likely cleaning up the playdough). Yet Lent reminds me what I truly need: Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. To rest in Our Lord who came to save each of us. To forego things that I may enjoy to focus on what is truly needed. I need to be healed of my sickness, my pride, my selfishness, with the medicine of grace that only He can give.

Here is my favorite Lenten Hymn:

Hymn at Matins for the Office of Lent

The fast, as taught by holy lore,
We keep in solemn course once more,
The fast to all men known and bound
In forty days of yearly round.

The law and seers that were of old
In divers ways this Lent foretold,
Which Christ, all seasons’ King and guide,
In after ages sanctified.

More sparing therefore let us make
The words we speak, the food we take,
Our sleep and mirth,–and closer barred
Be ev’ry sense in closer guard.

Keep we from vilest thoughts apart
That undermine the restless heart,
And yield no ground in ghostly fight
With crafty fiends’ usurping might.

In prayer together let us fall,
And cry for mercy one and all,
And weep before the Judge’s feet,
And his avenging wrath entreat.

Thy grace have we offended sore,
By sins, O God, which we deplore;
But pour upon us from on high,
O pard’ning One, thy clemency.

Remember thou, though frail we be,
That yet thine handiwork are we;
Nor let the honor of thy Name
Be by another put to shame.

Forgive the sin that we have wrought,
Increase the good that we have sought,
That we at length, our wand’rings o’er,
May please thee here and evermore.

Grant, O thou Blessed Trinity,
Grant, O Essential Unity,
That this, our fast of forty days,
May work our profit and thy praise.Amen.

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  • Katrina

    Beautiful, Texas Mommy, thank you so much for sharing your reflection and this hymn. I know that you have shared the hymn before, and it states so beautifully what we are all about as Christians on our Lenten journey.
    As I have gotten older, I have begun to appreciate more and more the concept of “resting in God,” and Lent has become more a time of peace and renewal than just a strenuous exercise in self-denial. I think it was harder for me to be detached from the things of this world – food, TV, etc. – when I was younger. Fasting is still a struggle, to be sure, but in a different way than when I was in my teens and 20’s.
    I hope that your little guy feels better soon!

  • Yes, yes, an opportunity to fast from the things that distract us from resting in him. Excellent and positive image! I often find that others focus very much on the “giving up” at this time of year, rather than drawing closer to God. Of course the two can go hand in hand, but I have often witnessed that they do not. Thanks for this encouragement today. Praying for everyone’s intentions and enjoying the chance to rest on Him.

  • J’