Our Catholic faith is rich with many signs and symbols.
Of significance today is of course the ashes and cross that mark the beginning of the season of Lent. As the sign of the cross is made on our forehead we are reminded that we are “dust and unto dust you shall return." Our humanity, our frailty, our mortality is brought to the forefront -- as is the price that was paid so that we may have eternal life. The outward sign of the ashes on our forehead is a mark identifying us as Christians. Some of us may carry other outward signs -- a crucifix around our neck, a medal dedicated to a title of our Blessed Mother, or maybe a medal associated with a favourite saint. (not to be confused with the medals currently being handed out in Vancouver!)
This Lent, I will be carrying in my pocket a pewter medal that on one side bears the inscription “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". On the other side, as you can see to the right, is a lamb, and a cross.
I received it at Mass on Sunday. The medals were blessed by the pastor and distributed to parishioners after Mass. Our pastor explained that these medals are intended to be carried in one's pocket, or purse, and are to be a daily reminder of this season of Lent. What a great idea! These medals aren't so much an outward sign for others, but a sign reminding me
of the interior work that I should be conducting over the next 40 days!
Each time I handle the medal I am reminded of the spirit of penance of this season, and can ask myself, how am I dying to myself, so that Christ may live in me? (Galatians 2:20)
How am I better incorporating prayer, fasting, and almsgiving into my daily activities? And perhaps most importantly: How am I using this time for transformation, so that I myself
will be a better sign to others of the Gospel message?
It's a worthwhile reminder for all of us, and one that I will carry with me in the days and the weeks ahead.