On Ash Wednesday, we begin again our Lenten journey of renewal and conversion. On this day we traditionally had our foreheads marked with ashes in the sign of the Cross with the words:
‘Dust you are and into dust you shall return’ This year as we are unable to be marked by ashes in our churches, we offer this simple prayer resource to support families in prayer on Ash Wednesday at home. We pray that Lent 2021 will be a journey of renewal for families, for the community, and for the world. Pope Francis, reflecting on the ashes traditionally imposed on our foreheads at the start of Lent, said: “We are dust in the universe. Yet we are dust loved by God.”
We know that Easter will come, and that Christ is risen. We pray for God’s grace this Lent to respond to his loving invitation, the call to repent. In returning to the Father, we experience the deep compassion of God that compels us too, to be compassionate to others.
In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, as we begin this holy season of Lent, grant us a change of heart that we might turn away from sin and follow your Son’s Gospel. By your grace, may our lives become more deeply rooted in prayer, self-sacrifice, and a willingness to share. Let us walk with you this Lent as we face our own limitations and seek to be your presence in the world. Create in us clean hearts that we might know, love, and serve you better through our service of others. Amen
And the Lord said: I will give you a new heart, and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts, and giving you hearts of love. I will put my spirit within you, and make you live by my ways, careful to observe my decrees. (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)
Lenten Litany (adapted)
Heavenly Father, this Lent we ask your grace –
To fast from judging others and feast on what makes them special, Lord help us
To fast from unkind words and feast on kindness, Lord help us
To fast from jealousy and feast on offering compliments, Lord help us
To fast from getting angry and feast on being patient, Lord help us
To fast from worry and feast on trusting God, Lord help us
To fast from complaining and feast on gratitude, Lord help us
To fast from nastiness and feast on friendliness, Lord help us
To fast from greed and feast on giving, Lord help us
To fast from selfishness and feast on helping others, Lord help us
To fast from discouragement and feast on hope. Lord help us
We trace the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads.
Together we say the prayer which Jesus taught us. Our Father…
God our Father, you formed us from the dust of the earth and brought us to new life in Christ through the waters of Baptism. We ask you to change our hearts as we journey through these forty days of Lent. Help us to see Jesus in everyone we meet, and to serve him in all persons, especially the poor, the sick and the lonely. By your grace, may our prayers and sacrifices this Lent help us grow closer to each another and to you, as one family in Jesus. We make this prayer to you in His name. Amen.
[Adapted with permission from Clogher Diocesan Liturgy Commission / Northern Pastoral Network]