This is one in a series of Lenten reflections.
By Katy Kreitzburg
Special to The Catholic Weekly
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” These words that we hear on Ash Wednesday always shake me out of my denial that the Christmas season really is over.
Likewise, they bring me to the sudden realization that Ordinary Time flew right past me while I was busy pining for Christmas. Finally, they make me feel a little guilty because, once again, I don’t have a very good game plan for Lent. But, in a roundabout way, they also remind me of one of my favorite Lenten devotions: the Stations of the Cross.
The reminder that we are dust can sometimes be an unpleasant reality check. What is dust? Dirt, mud, filth — trodden underfoot and quickly recycled into the earth, easily forgotten. Yet our Lord sanctifies even the dust as He trudges His way toward His death.
During the Stations of the Cross, we meditate on Jesus falling three times into the dust. Every time He falls, however, He rises from the dust and carries some of it with Him to Calvary. On the way, it becomes engrained in His feet. It mars His already disfigured face. It sticks to the bloody crevices of His wounded body. Then, at the Crucifixion, He is “lifted up” with the dust of our lives clinging to Him (John 12:32). Amazingly, He does not shake us off.
This is because He hangs upon the Cross for love of us. It is for love of the little, helpless specks of dust that we are that He endures so much suffering, so much sorrow, so much sacrifice. Because of His great purifying love, we are made clean.
And so we are more than just dust; we are the Lord’s adopted sons and daughters, beloved and chosen by Him. Moreover, we are cherished and guarded by the Blessed Mother, who is given to us by our Lord on the Cross to help us on the way to her Son. We need no longer fear being crushed underfoot by our sins, for our Lord has taken them upon Himself and has provided us with the strength and resources to be His followers.
Oh yes, we are nothing in comparison with the greatness of God; in that sense, we really are dust. We do not deserve such a wonderful, costly gift as the sacrifice offered on the Cross for mankind. But did not the Lord create the dust too? Are we not all His creatures? Does He not care for us, however little we may be? Jesus will never abandon us.
Every day we must traverse the Way of the Cross with our Lord; every day He picks up the big crosses that would crush us and helps us carry those smaller ones that we can handle only with His grace. All we have to do is follow Him closely, placing our feet into His footprints as best we can and keeping our eyes focused on Him. And even when the small crosses seem too much for us, we can at least walk with our Lord and, like Veronica, wipe His face and console His most sacred heart during the journey.
I’ll admit that I’ve probably been more focused on myself so far this Lent than on thinking about the Lord falling during His Passion. Thankfully, there is still time for us to rise from our own falls and try again in order to experience a more fruitful Easter. We might do this by taking a moment to mediate on the Stations of the Cross a few times this Lent, remembering that we are dust as we do so, but also recalling what great mercy the Lord has upon the dust of the earth. As the Psalmist says, let us “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 119: 29).
Katy Kreitzburg is a junior studying English at Central Michigan University and a member of St. Mary University Parish. She attended Sacred Heart Academy in Mount Pleasant from K-12 and was the valedictorian of her graduating class. She lives at home with her mother and their two cats. She enjoys reading, writing, cycling and baking in her spare time.