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Sunday night at the Oscars, one of the winners gave a powerful testimony about life—and, whether she realized it or not, she also offered Christians everywhere a great perspective on Lent.
Viola Davis, winning the award for Best Supporting Actress, began her acceptance speech with these words:
“You know,” she said, “there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place, and that’s the graveyard.”
We are here this morning, in part, to admit that, to accept that, to reflect that—and to make that matter.
When we receive those ashes on our brows, we say to ourselves and to the world: “One day, I will be nothing but dust. But until that day, I want to fulfill my potential—as a Catholic Christian and as a child of God.”
So we take these 40 days to repent, to reflect, and to turn back to the Gospel. We remember what we are made of—and what we were made to become.
The great St. Catherine of Siena once said famously, “If you become what you were meant to be, you will set the world on fire.”
What are we meant to be?
For each of us, the answer is the same. We are meant to be saints.
That is God’s greatest desire for every one of us gathered here. And part of Lent’s purpose is for us to strive to fulfill that desire—and fulfill our potential.
The ashes remind us that we may be burned out, but we are not burned up. There is a fire within us.