“REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST AND UNTO DUST YOU WILL RETURN.” (Gen. 3:19)
“A clean heart create for me, O God.” (Ps. 51)
During the celebration of Mass on Ash Wednesday, the ashes that are blessed and distributed are derived from the olive branches blessed on Palm Sunday of the previous year.
We begin each Lenten season by asking for the “blessing of forgiveness.” God longs for us to return to him with our whole heart.
“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Rend your hearts, not your garments and return to the Lord, your God, For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment…” (Joel 2:12-18)
For without such repentance we remain tormented by the question, “Where is our God?” God has not cast us out of his presence; rather, he is awaiting our return to him.
The Father “who is hidden” waits for us to pray: “A clean heart create for me, O God.”
PRAYER / REFLECTION
O God who desires not the death of the sinner but their conversion, mercifully hear our prayers and in your kindness be pleased to bless us who have received the ashes, that as we acknowledge that we are but ashes and shall return to dust, may, through a steadfast observance of Lent, gain pardon for our sins and newness of life after the likeness of your Risen Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
Source: Liturgy of Ash Wednesday.