There have been full churches throughout the Diocese of Wollongong today as thousands of parishioners have gathered together to receive ashes on their forehead as a symbol of the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
Ash Wednesday opens the 40 days of Lent—a season of fasting and prayer—where the Church unites herself to the mystery of Jesus in the desert. We are encouraged to look at this period of Lent as a journey. Lent reminds us that this is the season to turn away from our worldly distractions and journey home to God.
Check out some of the photos from today’s midday Ash Wednesday Mass at St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Wollongong with Bishop Brian Mascord.
Our diocesan logo is theologically rich and very succinct. As a hand, it depicts our mission as a diocese and as individuals within the diocese, of bearing (bringing, carrying) Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. In this, we are the hand of Jesus Christ, and we are offering ourselves to him so that he might work through us.
We can be the bearers of his love only as a response to his call and in the strength of his grace. We are reminded of this in two ways—through the symbol of the dove (the Holy Spirit) also present in the logo, and by the incorporation of the cross that segments the logo. The presence of the cross is a reminder that bearing the love of Christ will inevitably cost us if we live it authentically. However, in the way that the Cross is the portent of redemption and life—an echo of the tree of life in the book of Genesis—so becoming bearers of the love of Christ will also bring us to life.
The four fingers of the hand also represent the four regions of our diocese. The first is bluerepresenting the beautiful water of the Shoalhaven. The second is a blue and green combination representing the waters and escarpment of the Illawarra. The third is greendepicting the hills and plains of the Macarthur. The fourth is dark green illustrating the forests of the Southern Highlands.