Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a 40-day pilgrimage toward the joy of the Resurrection. On this day, millions of Christians around the world will hear the words, “Remember that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return,” as they are marked with the dust of ashes. Ashes are a sign of pride—we are marked for Christ; and of humility—we are dust, we cannot save ourselves, we need a Savior. More than a dismal season marked by restricted freedoms, Lent offers us the opportunity to come home to Christ. We are given the time and space to examine the parts of our heart that remain stony, and, with the help of our Lord, turn them into flesh. We are presented with a chance to walk in solidarity with Christ as he journeys to the Cross, so that we too might die to self in order to experience new life.
Over the past few months, the McGrath Institute for Church Life’s Office of Life and Human Dignity has been hosting a series of webinars entitled “Conversations that Matter.” The goal of this series is to spark authentic dialogue that deepens our commitment to our fellow sisters and brothers without the polarization and vitriol that currently characterize these conversations. This semester’s focus is the “Intersection of Justice and Pregnancy.” These particular webinars are structured to widen the scope of understanding about the work of the pro-life movement, societal structures that impact women, and supporting women who are in crisis. In learning more about these topics, we hope that conversations will move beyond the categories of pro-life and pro-choice to empathy and creativity in support of both moms and their unborn children.
It seems trivial to say that we are living in strange times. Yet, the triviality does not change the reality. Structures, institutions, and patterns of life once thought permanent and stable have been radically altered by the pandemic; moreover, we have been made aware that the “normal” life so many of us desire to return to is one of pervasive discrimination and tragic injustice for many, especially our Black brothers and sisters. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others cry out for justice and call us to action.