I wish everyone who reads these words a blessed Ash Wednesday and a Holy Lent.
Monday I was speaking with one of the brothers at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, and he noted that the Vatican does not require any particular words to be said during the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. Most priests say something along the lines of “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” But this particular monk says…
Remember you are dust, destined for Divinity.
This reminds me of the title of a wonderful book on the spiritual life I am currently reading (slowly, savoring every wise word): Beloved Dust, by Robert Davis Hughes III. Bob Hughes talks about how the heart of Christian spirituality is simultaneously a celebration of humanity’s sheer earthiness (remember, we are dust), and yet even in our humility (which means “of humus”, of the earth) we are deeply and profoundly loved by our Triune maker.
Traditionally, Ash Wednesday has been a day of repentance, and indeed it is wise to ponder one’s limitations and mistake-making on a day like this. But let us never forget that we are dust — dust beloved by God — dust destined for Divinity.