Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent in the Catholic tradition and liturgical calendar. It is a season of penance, fasting, and almsgiving which prepares us for Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection (Holy Triduum), which culminates with the celebration of Easter Sunday.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, our foreheads are marked with Ashes to humble our hearts and remind us that life on earth is only temporary and we acknowledge our mortality in the hope and promise of the Resurrection. We remember this when we are told, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.
It is in the season of Lent that we are reminded of two major themes. It emphasizes a spirit of penance. Over the next forty days we draw closer to God’s Word and prayer, as we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery. Secondly, Lent is also a time to reconcile our sins against God. We need to pay special attention to how we live out our faith and treat others, therefore we are reminded of the social and grave consequences to sin. Let us not forget that all is made known by God and that we cannot remove ourselves from the presence and love of God. Allow God to do wonderful things during this most holy season and be gracious and open in receiving His Grace and mercy.
And so we pray,
Lord God, your sons and daughters stand before You in humility and trust. Look always with compassion on us and heal our wounds. Stretch out your hand to save us and raise us up.
Keep us free from harm as members of Christ’s body, as sheep of your flock, and as children of your family. Do not allow evil or death to trimph over us, for you have raised us to new life in Baptism.
Hear Lord, our prayers and lead us back to your ways of Holiness. Protect us now and always, and may we receive openly your gift of unending love and divine mercy. Amen.
St. Michael the Archangel; pray for us.