A priest in the neighbouring diocese is offering "DRIVE-THRU" Ashes today. It's intended for those who might not have time to attend Mass today and there's merit in it. Those who choose to stop the car and interrupt their journey will be marked with the Lenten Sign that is Ashes. Come night time, they'll have faded away but the moment of contact will not be forgotten.
I just had Morning Mass here in the parish - one of three I'll celebrate today - and again that mark has been made. It's not about show or display but, I think, a willingness to allow ourselves be marked in His name.
There's a sadness in our Parish this Lenten morning since one of our parishioners died suddenly and unexpectedly last night. A woman, in her mid-sixties and full of life, who had so much to give and live for. She worked very closely with me in Urlaur Church - where she was sacristan but much, much more. When I came to the parish she was a member of the Parish Pastoral Council and served two terms, bringing to it many of her talents. Indeed the Early Morning Mass for Lent that we've just celebrated was her suggestion a number of years ago. She planned on being with us this morning - she was, in our prayers and thoughts around her and her family.
She noticed the things I'd so easily miss, point them out but only when she had an idea in mind to do something creative and meaningful. Last Saturday, she pointed out that the Thurible was in serious need of cleaning. Typical of her, before pointing it out, she had gone on line to find out the best ways of cleaning something that had been left far too long without cleaning. The remedies were amusing but I knew she'd follow through. She told me she was going to take it home to work on it and added "I hope you won't have a funeral". I assured her we'd manage and thanked her for her attentiveness. Her husband came home from work yesterday to find her dead on their kitchen floor. He called me and I went immediately, shocked and scarcely able to take in the reality that she had died. As I bent to pray over her and for her, I noticed that she was holding in her hand the little tray from the Thurible - shining as it had not shone in years. Her final act of service to God was cleaning the Thurible from which arises the incense of prayer. It shone in her hand as she had shone in our midst. I blessed her with the Holy Water of my tears that are again flowing as I write these words. There are so many good people around us and often we may well not give them the recognition they deserve.
About an hour before I got the call, I was in Ballaghaderreen and took the picture of the rainbow, featured above. I love rainbows and this one just seemed to end or begin (depending which way you look at it) from this little row of houses on the Castlerea Road. There's a promise linked with the Rainbow - an Old Testament Promise that God would never abandon HIs people. I pray that Nuala Hawkins, the woman I speak of, has encountered the fullness of that promise.
So - the thought for today - make the most of it for those with whom you share life, value them, thank them, reassure them, acknowledge them and pray with and for them.