Ash Wednesday,

ST. COLETTE

Born on January 13, she was orphaned at seventeen. She distributed her inheritance to the poor and became a Franciscan sister. She was renowned for her sanctity, ecstasies, and visions of the Passion.

Violet

Entrance Antiphon: Wis 11: 24, 25, 27

You are merciful to all, O Lord, and despise nothing that you have made. You overlook people’s sins, to bring them to repentance, and you spare them, for you are the Lord our God.

 

Collect

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 

First reading: Joel 2:12-18

‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’ Let 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, the ministers of the Lord, 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.

 

Psalm 50 (51):3-6, 12-14, 17

R/ Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.

1)   Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

 

2)  My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done..

 

3)  A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

 

4)Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervour sustain me, O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.

 

Second reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.

 

Gospel Acclamation: cf. Ps 50:12,14

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory! A pure heart create for me, O God, and give me again the joy of your help. Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

 

Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. ‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’

 

Prayer over the Offerings

As we solemnly offer the annual sacrifice for the beginning of Lent, we entreat you, O Lord, that, through works of penance and charity, we may turn away from harmful pleasures and, cleansed from our sins, may become worthy to celebrate devoutly the Passion of your Son. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

 

Communion Antiphon: Cf. Ps 1: 2-3

He who ponders the law of the Lord day and night will yield fruit in due season.

 

Prayer after Communion

May the Sacrament we have received sustain us, O Lord, that our Lenten fast may be pleasing to you and be for us a healing remedy. Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer over the People

Pour out a spirit of compunction, O God, on those who bow before your majesty, and by your mercy may they merit the rewards you promise to those who do penance. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

 

Meditation

In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches about the right attitude Christians should have towards God. In the Catholic faith and tradition, almsgiving, prayer and fasting are three eminent works expected of a Christian. It is fitting today, as the Church enters the Lenten season, for the Gospel to remind us of and once more invite us to adopt the right attitude when we perform these three good acts. In the line of the wisdom writings of Scripture, Jesus warns us against religious hypocrisy. We should give alms not in the interests of self-promotion but for the love of neighbour and for the sake of God. To pray in the right way is to pray not in order to show off one’s piety but to focus solely on God. Fasting should be an act of piety which helps us to properly direct our lives to God.