Ashes focus us on our 'purpose'
During Lent, we have a special opportunity to consider how we live
By Dan Malcore
As a grade school student, I thought receiving ashes on Ash
Wednesday was a good way to start out Lent because you really
sacrificed the way you looked all day.
Even at that young age, when I was so focused on the ashes of
that day, I felt the real meaning of Lent meant giving up
Eating fish on Fridays was never a sacrifice for me because as a
child I was allergic to fish and had to eat meat. When people
would complain about fish on Fridays I could never understand
As years rolled by I lost my allergy to seafood and made up for
lost time eating perch and sea burgers at will. I knew I had to
make a deeper commitment for Lent because seafood was just too
When I think about the sobering phrase "you are dust and to dust
you shall return," I think of the word "purpose."
I try to focus on what God wanted me to accomplish in my life. My
children have helped me understand this.
Like me, my children have grown up in a funeral home environment.
Children who grow up in funeral service have a dramatically
different view of the end of life.
When my young children would see someone in a casket they would
never want to know the obvious - like what did they die from.
They wanted to hear their life story.
I would always tell them all the wonderful things the person
accomplished in their life. I think about Lent the same way.
I think what really matters is:
-- First, what kind of relationship I have with God .
-- Second, what kind of husband, father, and grandfather I am.
Is it more important for me to go home after work, relax and
watch the evening news or should I rush over to watch the second
half of my son's soccer match or my daughter's basketball game?
Is it more important that we "touch base" with each other on the
run or make it a golden rule that we eat one meal a day as a
family, starting with a prayer of thanksgiving and ending with
"tell me your high and low for the day"?
Is it more important that I work on the computer until it's time
to go to bed or is it better to sit down with my wife for at
least one hour so we can catch up on each other's lives, sharing
the joys and concerns of the day, consoling each other's worries
and putting life back in perspective so we are ready for a new
Is it more important for me to relax on the few weekends I don't
have to work or travel four hours on a Friday night in the dark
to spend the weekend with one of our adult children who lives out
of state and yearns to see our faces?
Lent is more about what I need to do and less about what I need
to give up. It's a time to reflect on where I've been and where I
need to go because in the end, and in the ashes, I will be held
accountable for my life and what I've done with it.
(Malcore is a member of St. Bernard Parish, Green Bay. He is the
owner of Malcore Funeral Home in Green Bay.)