Ash Wednesday

A Pilgrim's Daily Prayer

Called through the Word to the everlasting journey in the Spirit

from nothingness to union with the One who is the Beginning and the End

Anonymous Russian Master: The Ladder of Divine Ascent
Spencer Collection, New York Public Library, New York, 16th century

Ash Wednesday

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Joel 2:12-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
Second Reading: Second Corinthians 5:20--6:2
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation (NRSV, 2 Cor 6:2b).

Let us pray.

The story of creation and the story of the beginning of the individual human being, Father, is your Word calling all that is finite out of nothingness to being. We, who are your children, your Word has called, in particular, to share in your very life: not only to participate in your being but to ex-ist, to go out of ourselves to others in your Holy Spirit and to grow constantly in your divine life. Your Word challenges us at every moment to move higher in everything that we are, spirit and body,along the ladder of divine ascent.

Father, as we ascend towards you, it is important for us to understand more fully what we are called to be and how we are to live. We reflect on this, hopefully, a number of times a day. We pause on our journey to find ourselves and you in prayer as we move forward and upward.

In the assembly of the Church we gather, some of us more frequently, but, as a community, once a week, on the day set aside for you, Lord.  If possible we meet during this sacred time in a sacred place so as not to be distracted by the always pressing concerns of the workaday world. There we pause to celebrate the Eucharist, to remember who we are and the destiny to which you call us. We listen to the sacred Scriptures, your Word written down for us, and we break Bread together, celebrating the sharing of your life with us in the Body and Blood of your only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray to you, Lord, during this sacred time in this sacred space, but both are really set aside for us that we may be refreshed on our journey in the Spirit forward and upper to you.

If once a week we observe the Lord’s Day as sacred, every year, before the annual celebration of the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, we designate forty days to pause significantly on our pilgrimage for a fuller assessment of our life and the direction it is taking. During these forty days of Lent we go out into the desert to fast and to pray with Jesus that our mission may become manifest to us as it was to him.

We fast and do penance, we read and devote more time to prayer, not so much too subjugate a rebellious body, as to renew our focus on our final destiny and to order our entire life in conformity with that goal.

Father, may this Lent be for us truly a sacred season, a holy time of growth in understanding and direction, of further growth in your divine life.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.






Ash Wednesday




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