Monday, March 7, 2011

Ash Wednesday and Clint Eastwood

Ash Wednesday is fast approaching and it’s on, you’ve guessed it right, Wednesday, March 9! You know, I hate attending the masses on Ash Wednesday because of long and boring waiting hours of falling in line twice, one for the communion and the other for distribution of ashes. And despite of this, I have been religiously (no pun intended) attending Ash Wednesday masses since my wife and this job got me some 19 years ago. Though not considered a Holy Day of Obligation, all Roman Catholics are encouraged to attend the Mass marking the beginning of the Lenten season.

When I was a teenager, I’d rather watch outlaw Josey Wales ride his horse and draw his two guns as fast as lightning than witnessing Fr. Juvenal “Bunny” Caoili, SVD (May his soul rest in peace. He passed away last Feb. 27 at the UST Hospital after suffering from cardiac arrest. ) dip his right thumb in the ashes, making the Sign of the Cross on each person's forehead, and say (in Tagalog): "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."

“The Outlaw Josey Wales” as what movie addict like me would recall is a 1976 film about a Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family. It was directed and starred by US actor turned politician, Clint Eastwood. Yes, the same Eastwood who said: “I've never met a genius. A genius to me is someone who does well at something he hates. Anybody can do well at something he loves - it's just a question of finding the subject.” I told you a while ago, I hate going to Mass on Ash Wednesday but I’m still doing it well. Eastwood, perhaps, finally found his elusive “genius” in me (Ahem!).

Seriously, even though we love our job the things we hate come along the way. You might be as famous director as Clint Eastwood and you are working with the actors and crew that you hate. Or you might be a broadcaster or a propagandist or a PR person of a politician that must convey overly politically stuffs to bootlick your patron that you are sick of airing over and over again. But instead of dropping it hook, line and sinker, it would make a genius out of you to just get over with it objectively and upright.

It’s a tall order but the first thing to do is NOT to hate anything or anyone. But let us be constantly reminded during private moments with ourselves that we need to do those things we hate to do because of certain situations that we are in. We have to do it and we are making history out of it, a challenge that we have to struggle in every minute of our lives to see how good we are.

Here is little Catechesis: The Church emphasizes the penitential nature of Ash Wednesday by calling us to fast and abstain from meat. Catholics who are over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 are required to fast, which means that they can eat only one complete meal and two smaller ones during the day, with no food in between. Catholics who are over the age of 14 are required to refrain from eating any meat, or any food made with meat, on Ash Wednesday.

But it’s important to know that these- fasting, abstinence and doing the things that we do not like- aren’t about punishing ourselves or making ourselves suffer. Most of the time, saying “no” to our every comfort and convenience is a “yes” to the One who showed genuine love by washing our feet and perished on the cross. To turn away to the things that divides our thoughts, hearts and whole being.

May this season of Lent I may find ways not to truly hate, but to do things as brave and cunning as the outlaws in cowboy movies like Clint Eastwood’s “The Outlaw Josey Wales” …

(Photo Google Images)

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