22 February -Ash Wednesday Print E-mail

Today's Theme: 

Today and for the next forty days or so we enter a process of prayer, penitence, reconciliation, positive thinking and good works   in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection and  'abundant life' as promised by Jesus.

lent themes


Scripture Reading: Book of Joel: 12-18

'Now, now '- it is the Lord who speaks,
'come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.'

joel-1Let your hearts be broken not your garments torn,
turn to the Lord your God again,
for he is all tenderness and compassion,
slow to anger,
rich in graciousness,
and ready to relent.

Who knows if he will not turn again, will not relent,
will not leave a blessing as he passes,
oblation and libation for the Lord your God?
Sound the trumpet in Zion!
Order a fast,
proclaim a solemn assembly,
call the people together,
summon the community,
assemble the elders.
gather the children, even the infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his bedroom .
And the bride her alcove

Between vestibule and altar let the priests lament.
Let them say, 'Spare your people, Lord.
Do not make your heritage a thing of shame, a byword for the nations.
Why should it be said among the nations, "Where is their God?" Then the Lord, jealous on behalf of his land, took pity on his people.

                                                             (Picture of Joel the Prophet
                                                                                                                        from the Sistine Chapel)

General Comment:
In the readings today there is a great consciousness of our sinfulness as we pray, 'Have mercy on us,    Lord, for we have sinned.' There is also a sense that the time to repent and turn back is now. The Gospel tells us how to approach that renewal of ourlives. It puts before us the remedy in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three strands of Lenten observance are as ancient as Christianity itself. There is no substitute for them.
'Fasting is the soul of prayer mercy is the lifeblood of fasting.
'If we have not all three toqether, we have nothing,' says St Peter Chrysologus


Reflection: A sacred time and space

The Old Days
When I was young, Ash Wednesday always seemed like a damp, dreary, sombre and cold day. We, the faithful and fearful, assembled in the church, sitting in the foreboding shadows of the forty miserable days ahead. This was the time for inward sadness, a time when our spirits would become sullen and cold, laden down with fasting, deprivation and self denial. As for the kids, No TV or sweets, This was Lent

As I watched the crowds, making their ways to the altar, awaiting their turn to receive their ashen mark, I could feel their awkward tension, their deep desire not to be there, yet there was their equally strong compulsion to be there, a feeling of  keeping up an age old tradition. Soon it was my family’s turn to kneel before the priest. People, wearing the lines of remorse and regret on their faces, and  knelling with the dreaded apprehension of the next six weeks. I could hear the mumbled ominous words pronounced over each person as their foreheads were blackened with the charred ash of last year’s palms, sealing our resolve to fasting from food and abstaining from meat and other pleasures, ice cream, films, dances and the like.

“Thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return,”

That was then and this is now.
Now I welcome its arrival more each year as a time for thoughtful reflection, a precious time when I can add to and deepen my self-understanding, personal growth and emotional healing. Lent, this year, ends the wintry days of my soul. It speaks to me of new hopes, new life. It is a time for preparing new beginnings, as surely as the Spring emerging with its greening energy around me. Even our country seems to have optimism as we face our economic issues with new hope.

                                                  'Repent and believe the Good News'


'Come aside and rest awhile'

 The Prophet Joel was right.
We all need:
a sacred place apart, a sacred space –
a room for prayer,
a holiday/retreat,
some holy place of nature, away from it all.
some time in which we can ponder the meaning of our lives,
how we would like to be remembered,
what we would like to see written on our headstone.  
A time to refresh the body, mind and spirit
A time to get to know and love God and ourselves better.

Welcome to Lent 2012 !


Story:  The discouragement box

One day, the Devil decided to close up shop in a certain part of the world. He disguised his shop well and had an open day. Always on the make he decided on a fire sale and an attitude auction. Many people people were pleased to get hold of his tools. Fear, ignorance and prejudice were very popular. Greed and power was greatsellers, he used say., and I have boxes of them

One person seeking to be more spiritual and caring, wandered into the shop. Intensely curious, he looked around at all the tricks of deception and the tools of malice, until he spotted the locked box on the highest shelf that had the highest price. Boldly, he asked the devil what was in that box, and why was it so expensive.

"Ah",The devil replied, “That is discouragement. It is expensive because it is my favourite. With that tool of discouragement, I can pry into any person or any group and cause all kinds of havoc and damage.” I have destroyed more people with that tool than anything else."


By not letting ourselves get discouraged by life’s challenges, we learn how best to accept ourselves, our lives, worries, achesand pains. We need turn everything into opportunities and challenges. Lent is a time of challenge and opportunity to grow.

(Teresa Kennedy, A Catholic Ireland friend, Trinidad and tobago. WI)


A gentle call to action

There are traditionally three strands of Lenten observance are they are as ancient as Christianity itself:
prayer, fasting and compassion.
Prayer places us squarely in God’s presence.
Fasting focuses the body and mind and is the soul of prayer. (Reminding us of the close integration of body, mind and spirit)
Compassion for others is the lifeblood of our faith.By fasting and self denial we are reminded of the needs others who have to do without luxuries and sometimes even basics because of poverty, injustice or sickness.

Try to remember to keep today as a Fast and Abstinence day.
(if you miss out today – you can always choose another day to fast!) 


Today we get signed with the Ashes. Its  a sign.


praying handsLord,

As we begin the journey of Lent,
may this season of  prayer, repentance and compassion,

open our eyes to our own personal sinfulness,
our church's neglect of those who are hurting,
and our society's lack of care, justice and compassion.

May it give us the vision to help one another.

We ask this in Jesus name.



Meditation image of the day.

Early growth need tender care and protection
Lent is a springtime for spiritual growth.
Be gentle with yourself and others this Lent.



Your Father, who sees all that is done in secret, will reward you. .....Mt 6: 18


 Early growth need tender care and protection 
Lent is a springtime for spiritual growth.
 Be gentle with yourself and others this Lent.

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