Mural painting from the catacomb of Commodilla. Rome 4th century.
Lent comes around each year. We hear the familiar words, experience the familiar rituals. Calls for a death to self and selfishness, renewal of life through the mystery of Easter and baptism. This year it hit me slightly differently.
On Shrove Tuesday I went to a nursing home to anoint a 95 year old who was drawing to the end of her allotted span. “Dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return”. Then on Ash Wednesday, a text came from a member of the congregation announcing the birth of their new daughter, born the day before. Shortly thereafter a message came saying the old lady had passed on that morning.
Death and life intertwine in the Christian mystery of crucifixion and resurrection. Death leads to life and life to death. We experience both in the mystery of prayer, perhaps especially at this time of year. Penitence breaks down our self centred self, forgiveness brings us to the joy of renewed life.