Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 2023

    February 23, 2023

    Have you washed the ashes off your face yet? Has the dust reminding us of our most important life-journey left your heart as well as your face? What have the ashes left on your countenance? What do you face when you look in the mirror?

    Today’s readings urge us to make choices on a daily basis—little choices or big ones—that move us toward those things we consider to be important. These daily choices help to set the trajectory and focus of our lives. Sometimes we choose wisely, and sometimes foolishly, but when we look into the mirrors that life puts before us, we know that we are free to choose.

    But what if we lose the ability to clearly choose our best pathway? What if our vision becomes clouded by doubt, or anxiety, or grief, or depression, or mental illness? How free are we to choose wisely in those times of darkness?

    Having someone listen and provide professional guidance is critical for people who walk in the darkness of despair and that is why counseling services are a critical component of Catholic Charities’ services. It is not enough to feed, clothe, or educate people…they must come to a point of freedom to choose the steps toward their own hoped-for pathways.

    For all of us Lent, is a time to reduce the distractions of life and make choices that can adjust the directions we are taking in our busy lives. It is also a time that those who serve through Catholic Charities must be sure that emotional support and professional counseling are components of our family of service. When people look into the mirror that our face becomes for them, the hope that we reflect back to them can change their lives.

    Sister Mary Louise Stubbs is a Daughter of Charity who currently serves as the director of her congregation’s International Project Services program, finding resources for ministries in low-resourced countries.

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