ASH WEDNESDAY is the first day of Lent, a 40 day period that ends on Easter , which is April 12th this year.
The Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations consider this as a time for reflection, penance, prayer, and works of charity.
In this world where there is not much self-denial, Ash Wednesday reminds us of self denial of things we are attached to. Many people use this time to give up something they really like, ice cream, meat, going out to eat, etc. Others say it is not about giving up something, but doing something that might benefit someone else.
During times of high stress, such as now with our nation’s recession—more people turn to their faith and Lent is the perfect time for self reflection. Basically, Lent is the time to help us clarify who we are in relationship with God.
When ashes are received on the forehead, the Priest or Minister repeats the words “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return”. Some Denominations say “ We repent and believe in the good news”.
The Ashes used on this day are usually prepared on Tuesday by the clergy. Palm leaves are burned, the ashes allowed to cool and then collected to be used today.
Whatever your religion or your beliefs, the crisis in the world around us needs our prayers. Pray for our world leaders, the sick and suffering, our friends, family and for yourself. Lent is the perfect time to spend a little extra time on our knees.
Ash Wednesday Prayer
Jesus, you place on my forehead
the sign of my sister Death:
“Remember you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
How not hear her wise advice?
One day my life on earth will end;
the limits on my years are set,
though I know not the day or hour.
Shall I be ready to go to meet you?
Let this holy season be a time of grace
for me and all this world.
“Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.”
O Jesus, you place on my forehead
the sign of your saving Cross:
“Turn from sin and be faithful
to the gospel.”
How can I turn from sin
unless I turn to you?
You speak, you raise your hand,
you touch my mind and call my name,
“Turn to the Lord your God again.”
These days of your favor
leave a blessing as you pass
on me and all your people.
Turn to us, Lord God,
and we shall turn to you.
Where ever you are and what ever you are doing, have a day filled with God’s love.