Our Traditions

Traditions can be big or small, important and not. Not all traditions are created equal. If each one of us are to be a person faithful to Gods’ eternal covenant in Christ; if we are to be a church faithful to that covenant, then we must be a people who remember rightly and hold onto the Traditions that go to the heart of faith, the heart of the covenant.

There are lots of church traditions that come and go. They are good for a time because they help the faithful of that time, but in time, they lose their ability to draw people close to the heart of the covenant. But ashes, alms giving, prayer and fasting – these things have been present in the ages before Christ and in the millennia since. It is the experience of the Church that these traditions of Lent help move people to the embrace of family that God is building up through these successive covenants.

On an Ash Wednesday past, one person approached me and wanted to know why we had made up a new blessing for giving ashes, “What’s wrong with you Franciscans, aren’t the traditions of the Church good enough for you.” She was asking why we didn’t use the “ashes to ashes” blessings. She explained it was important that people remember they are nothing, nothing but a pile of dust, corrupt, sinful, and not worthy of such a savior. That is what she remembered. But has she remembered rightly? She wanted to know where this “Repent and believe in the Gospel” came from. In my best deadpan, I replied, “the Gospel according to Mark 1:15 and then designated for use by the Roman Missal for the Ash Wednesday liturgy.” I don’t exactly recall what she said – memory has been fused with the reruns of SNL – all I can now picture is Gilda Radner saying, “Never, mind.” I wish the woman had stayed and had been interested in discussing the richness of our Lenten traditions of ashes, alms, prayer, and fasting.

Here is a question for you. The traditions of ashes, alms giving, prayer, and fasting – how do they go the heart of faith and the heart of the Covenant? Or put another way, are these things drawing you closer to God? And maybe the answer is “not really…” – which is OK for an answer but only if it leads you to ask “Why not?”

We are all called to “remember rightly” in our celebration of Lent.

2 thoughts on “Our Traditions

  1. Clicking on the “Remembering Rightly” tab, I read this blog entry I wrote in 2015. It is a beautiful reminder of what will take place this coming Sunday, for our catechumens in our RCIA class.

    Jamie [Faith] on February 23, 2015 at 8:41 am said:

    We are a covenant people. We belong to God. Beautiful words . . . they mean so much . . . especially our belonging to God.

    Coming back from the Rite of Sending/Rite of Election yesterday where our catechumens and candidates were received by Bishop Lynch is a reminder that we are passing on our faith T[t]raditions (this covenant) to those who have chosen our Catholic faith as theirs. It was beautiful watching all of them process forward to meet Bishop Lynch. And, of course, the music, as it always does with me (you too?) transports you to another place. The choir sounded just lovely!

    The opening song was “You Have Called Us”:

    You have called us by our name.
    We belong to you.
    You have called us by our name and we are yours.

    How appropriate for those awaiting the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil. “We are yours.” How lovely are those three little words! May they resonate in our hearts so we can remember rightly our covenant with God.

  2. I am truly drawn to the Traditions of our faith. Coming from a different faith tradition, I like the traditions that remind of you of God’s love, compassion and mercy. The ashes on Ash Wednesday are a blessed reminder of that. “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Yes, we are dust, but it is our journey during Lent back to the Father, returning to the shelter of His love, that makes us whole once again. I know that it is important to acknowledge that I am a sinner and I do, but it is also important to remember that we are loved beyond measure. God thought so. He sent His Son to redeem us. May our Lenten season be full of traditions and reminders of His great love, compassion and mercy for us! In our most humble of moments, we gain so much!

    I’ll never forget hearing for the first time at Sacred Heart one of the friars stating that during Lent we are drawn back to holiness. How beautiful is that: holiness! How appropriate for Ash Wednesday!

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