Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

Christianity, conversion, faith, health, Martyr, New Testament, peace, Prayer, sacraments, Writing

The Culture of Lent: Ash Wednesday

the culture of lent: ash Wednesday
The culture of Lent: Ash Wednesday

The culture of Lent: Ash Wednesday

Is Lent a culture?


When considering the word culture, we understand it signifies a cumulative deposit of knowledge, beliefs, values, notions of time and of roles. So yes, the upcoming forty days embodies a “culture of Lent.” One that I aim to inhale more completely this year than those that have gone before.

I am not a ‘cradle Catholic.’ My entrance into Catholicism occurred while living in Massachusetts during the late nineties. When the Boston Globe was demonizing the then Cardinal Bernard Law and the Catholic Church and earning a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering homosexual grooming of boys by Catholic priests in the Diocese of Boston. Lurid headlines and vicious television ads ceaselessly touted the abject criminal behavior of a Cardinal who entered the accused priest into therapy then transferred him to another diocese. Wholly ignoring the fact that Law was following the advice of psychiatrists and psychologists–the ‘science,’ of the time, the investigative journalists “got Law.” And incited thousands of viewers and readers to decide that yes, he too was a victim.

Well-known financial leader Peter Lynch sat on the Board of the Boston Archdiocese during the siege. The effects of the 1991 changes to the sexual harassment legislation were predictable. But Lynch’s sage advice: “Do NOT settle!” went unheeded and the tsunami of lawsuits began. .

Over three decades later, untold numbers of Catholic priests have been accused in the endless cycle of litigation. Most without a chance to defend themselves. Some, like Father Gordon McCrae, imprisoned despite their innocence.

“How,” as Chief Justice Clarence Thomas baldly put it, “do you prove you did not do something?”.

That this malady is actively encouraged in secular society isn’t just ignored, it’s celebrated– but not prosecuted. The hypocrisy is stultifying.

All of this brings me back to the culture of Lent: Ash Wednesday. And the plunge we accept when the ashes are inscribed on our foreheads.

Plunge into what?

Into what indeed?

Not what but who.

Into this Person: Jesus. Foretold by Moses:

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 

Deuteronomy 18:15-22http://Deuteronomy

So what is the connection between alleged sexual abusers and Lent?


Love–His Love for humanity.

  • The ease with which one person can destroy another’s life by taking and twisting an event.
  • Or making it up.
  • A judicial system that isn’t hampered by the need for evidence, accusation suffices.
  • And the staggering amount of money underscoring the entire enterprise
  • None of this can infect me: I must understand these and all things as opportunity for grace.

Daily, I have been praying one hour of the Twenty-Four Hours of the Passion of Jesus Christ.

Just one hour: from 5pm in the afternoon when Jesus said good-bye to Mary, his mother, through to 5pm the following day when she leaves his dead body in the tomb.

The mystic Luisa Piccarreta writes profoundly detailed visions of Jesus’ experiences on the way to the Cross. He permits her to share in his passion—and—us.

A love we cannot grasp.



Does Jesus demonstrate any emotion but love for his Jewish tormentors.

In this hour Jesus is in the midst of the soldiers with imperturbability and iron constancy. God as He is, He suffers all the strains which the soldiers inflict upon Him, and looks at them with so much love that He seems to invite them to give Him more pains.

And we – are we constant during repeated sufferings, or do we lament, get irritated and lose peace; that peace of the heart which is necessary to allow Jesus to find a happy dwelling within us?

Firmness is that virtue which makes us know whether God really reigns in us. If ours is true virtue, we will be firm in trial, with a firmness which is not inconstant, but always equal to itself. The more we become firm in good, in suffering, in working, the more we enlarge the field around us, in which Jesus will expand His graces. Therefore, if we are inconstant, our field will be small, and Jesus will have little or no space. But if we are firm and constant, as Jesus finds a very extensive field, He will find in us His shelf and support, and the place in which to extend His graces.

The Twenty-Four Hours of the Passion of Christ

A PS on Confession or

more accurately, the sacrament of reconciliation.

Always, I feel cleansed–a word my friend Sharon used when speaking about a recent confession. I like Sharon’s word because cleansing implies washing off dirt which is precisely what I do every couple of weeks.

Or more often if I’ve done or thought what I know not to think or do—spiritual showering, to restore friendship with Jesus. But spiritual cleaning requires the Church. Alone, I can’t erase the sin:

…From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile…

Rather than pontificate about why this sacrament is so crucial, this super-cool video from Saint Ferdinand’s Church in Blanco, Texas explains far better than I could. And in less than eight minutes.

Thank you, Father Brion Zarsky for posting this on your website.

Post Tags :
blessing, catholicism, catholocism, christian, forgiveness, god, healing, rules, sacred, sexual harrasment, sexual poitics

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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