Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today's Mass symbolizes the whole spirit of Lent. We are reminded to be sorry for our sins and to do penance, but not in a spirit of showy sadness or of inward despair. Rather, let the sincere and humble prepare with inner joy to celebrate their baptism in Christ. By living their baptismal promises, they enter more deeply into Christ's life, death and Resurrection. Knowing God's desire to forgive, to heal, and to share with all mankind His own divine life, we discipline our passions gladly and with confidence in the victory that Christ has won for us. God gives the grace for every Lenten restraint. Therefore, everyone should receive the blessed ashes, both as a means of grace and as a reminder to do penance, unobtrusively, for personal sins and for the sins of all mankind.
[Adapted from the 'Daily Missal of the Mystical Body.']

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.
Ash Wednesday is the day for being reminded of and contemplating our mortality.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent for Western Christian churches. It is also known as the 'Day of Ashes', a day of penitence to clean the soul before the Lenten fast. Ashes are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance. During Lent, ancient Christians mourned their sins and repented of them, so it was appropriate for them to show their sincerity by having ashes on their foreheads. The custom has persisted in the church as secular society has changed around us. Traditionally, the ashes for the Ash Wednesday service come from burning the palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration & a little oil is added to the ashes so that they stick to people’s foreheads.The use of ashes, is very symbolic.
"God our Father, you create us from the dust of the earth.Grant that these ashes may be for us a sign of our penitence, and a symbol of our mortality."
The priest or deacon marks each worshipper on the forehead, and says "remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return", or a similar phrase based on God's sentence on Adam in Genesis 3:19. The modern practice in Roman Catholic churches nowadays, as the ashes are being administered, is for the priest to say "Turn away from sin and believe in the gospel."
In Bible times the custom was to fast, wear sackcloth, sit in dust and ashes, and put dust and ashes on one's head. While we no longer normally wear sackcloth or sit in dust and ashes, the customs of fasting and putting ashes on one's forehead as a sign of mourning and penance have survived to this day. These are two of the key distinctive's of Lent. In fact, Ash Wednesday is a day not only for putting ashes on one's head to mark the cross on the believer's forehead which symbolizes that through Christ's death and resurrection, all Christians can be free from sin, but also a day of fasting.

God saves me, Jesus enlightens me, the Holy Spirit is my life, thus I fear nothing.