I’m sure he’s worn them with his vestments before but tonight was the first time I noticed them.
I worship in a church that’s on an Air Force Base. Uniforms are a common sight at mass and we often welcome home Airmen whose families have been in church for months without them, just as we pray over those who are soon leaving on deployments. We pray for peace in our lives at the same time our service members prepare for war on a daily basis.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of our Lenten season. It’s a day on which we make conscious decisions on how best to live the next forty days of our lives. We decide to sacrifice our favorite things, to pray with more intent, exercise more, help those in need, change a bad habit or simply be better people. Today we are full of hope that we will be able to do these things. In reality, Lenten promises can be much like New Year’s resolutions, easier made then kept.
This was our Opening Prayer tonight, also known as the Collect:
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
What an appropriate prayer offered up by a priest in combat boots, to a community of warriors.
Tonight we go forth from the church with ashes on our foreheads as a visible sign of our Lenten promises. Not visible are the weapons we will employ as we struggle against temptation and work towards fulfilling those promises. We have those weapons at our disposal, we now must train ourselves to use them. This particular community is good at that.