Archives: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday: Singing the Song of Our Enemy

The terrible war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended in December 1995.

The fighting between Serbs and Croats had set itself up along ethnic and religious lines and so deepened the divisions between the warring factions that it seemed impossible to imagine them going forward in any type of peace, much less healing and reconciliation.

A Franciscan priest began a revolutionary project in early 1996.

He recruited singers from across the country, people who were gifted in music, not necessarily professionals, but just people who were known in their towns and communities for their voices.

He brought them all together, Muslims and Christians, Serbs and Croats, some literally fresh off the battlefield, and asked them to begin singing together.

But not just any songs.

He asked them to sing the most traditional and well-known and deeply rooted religious songs of the Bosnian people, both Christian songs and Muslim songs.

He asked them to sing the songs of their enemies. Continue reading

What To Do When You Can’t Forgive Someone Who’s Dead

Today I’d like to talk to you about death.

Why? Well, because it’s Ash Wednesday, and that’s always a good time to talk about death.

Also, because we don’t talk about death enough.

A clergy friend of mine says she always greets Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent with an enormous sense of relief, because we are finally free to talk about everything we don’t want to talk about, and the things we don’t want to talk about are usually the greatest burdens on our hearts.

I’d like to talk about how most of us misunderstand death in a fundamental way even though we’re Christians.

We treat death as final.

We treat death as a complete ending of our relationship with the person who has died, and that’s actually not at all true.

We find evidence of this right in our own catechism, and every time I quote this to people, they’re surprised.

“Why do we pray for the dead?” the question reads in the catechism (it’s on page 862 in your prayerbook if you’re interested).

And here’s the answer: “We pray for them, because we still hold them in our love, and because we trust that in God’s presence those who have chosen to serve him will grow in his love, until they see him as he is.”

What do you think about that? Continue reading