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Wednesday, February 13, 2002

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Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Psalm 51
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

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heart-wrenching ashes

"Even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts." —Joel 2:12-13

When we receive ashen crosses on our foreheads, we are saying:

  • We have sinned (1 Jn 1:9).
  • We have sinned seriously because we have sinned against an all-holy God Who has loved us perfectly (see 1 Jn 4:16).
  • We have repented.
  • We publicly admit that we are responsible to begin repairing the extensive damages from our sins.
  • We have hope in Jesus and His cross.
  • We are beginning a lifestyle of repentance and reparation, especially during the Lenten season.

Because of the meanings of our ashen crosses, receiving ashes is not a trivial matter. We may even decide to delay the reception of ashes until our hearts match our words, for to receive ashes is to rend our hearts (Jl 2:13). The Lord calls us to tear our hearts because they are hardened (Ps 95:8) and need to be cleansed (Ps 51:12). An open, cleansed heart is wholly surrendered to the Lord (see Jl 2:12).

Will the ashen cross remain on your heart after it has been wiped off your forehead? Do you have the heart to receive ashes today?

Prayer:  Crucified Jesus, make my heart like Yours.

Promise:  "Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" —2 Cor 6:2

Praise:  Margaret makes a point of going to a morning Mass on Ash Wednesday so she can have the opportunity to explain the ashes to others throughout the day.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, August 18, 2001

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2001