Ash Wednesday at Mississippi Abbey

In Dag Hammarskjold’s book titled “Markings” he writes about a person who was impossible to live with. “His behavior brought him into conflict with everybody.  Finally, his conduct could not be tolerated any longer.  The truth had to come out. His self-esteem was so convinced of his innocence that we felt like brutes demonstrating step by step the contradictions in his defense and, bit by bit, stripped him naked before his own eyes.  But justice to others demanded it.”

“When we felt there was nothing more to be said, when the last lie had been taken from him, he replied with stifled sobs, ‘But why did you never help me, why didn’t you tell me sooner?’” Then Dag Hammarskjold realized, “We were, in fact, to blame.  We had not voiced our criticisms … and in this way we had barred every road to improvement. Instinctively, we tried to eliminate him from our sphere of responsibility.” 1

All of us suffer from the effects of our sinfulness.  Here, at the beginning of Lent each year the Church tells us of our condition before it is too late.  We are called once again, as so often we have been called before, to realize our condition, to repent, to move away from our sinful habits and to return to God. 

1. Dag Hammarskjold, “Markings,” Alfred A. Knopf Inc, NY,1964, p. 31