By Msgr. Hugh Shields
Special to The CS&T

As we prepare to enter the holy season of Lent, the refrain from the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday, “Turn away from sin and believe the Good News,” echoes in the hearts of many.

The twofold direction of energies becomes clear as we contemplate these phrases:(1)Turn away from sin. This demonstrates the very real need of all of us to recognize that we are capable, with the grace and love of God, to leave behind the sinful ways and move forward with our lives. We can “turn away!”

(2) And believe in the Good News. This is a call to “believe” in a manner that manifests in a change, a difference, in our daily lives. In the “belief” comes the realization that we are free, thanks to God’s unlimited, boundless love. Free to leave behind jealously, injustice and mean-spiritedness; caustic, judgmental remarks that wound; and additions that rob us of life. The “belief” helps us to truly believe in (and show) the liberating Good News of the Gospel.

As we enter the holy season of Lent, as we are signed with the ashes proclaiming our faith in the love of Christ, it is fair to ask ourselves: How many of our family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances and others will be able to feel the loving and freeing invitation and challenge to “turn away from sin and believe in the Good News” by our presence in their lives this Lent?

Will the message of the ashes be evident in my lifestyle throughout the Lenten season?

Or will the message disappear with the first washing?

Hopefully, many will feel the message of our ashes throughout the Lenten season!

Msgr. Hugh Shields is the Vicar for Hispanic Catholics of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.