Wishing all who observe Ash Wednesday a blessed, spiritually enriching reflective joyous start on this pilgrimage to Christ’s Passion. After attending a super early morning Mass than I am accustomed to before taking on the day, I was reminded how peaceful it is to begin the day focused on our one true source of strength, love, peace and hope. As the ashes from the burned palm fronds were placed on my forehead in the shape of our source of salvation, those simple powerful words “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” brought forth an indescribable sense of calm which settled upon my soul. Anything in life worth having is never easy, and we all have our burdensome crosses to carry, but what is so beautiful about this season of prayer, repentance and almsgiving extends well beyond giving up or taking something on. It’s about being forever spiritually transformed from the inside out and answering the call to have a renewed faith in all areas of our lives. For me, it’s about recommitting myself to eating disorder recovery, it’s about self-care, it’s about getting out of my head when it feels nearly impossible to freely give of my heart and time to God and others’.
Being marked with an outward sign of who we are and what we believe is a public declaration of our faith, and as the ashes dissipate may over the next forty days we keep this beautiful universal prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI in mind.
“Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.
I love you: let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.
I worship you as my first beginning,
I long for you as my last end.
I praise you as my constant helper, and call on you as my loving protector.
Guide me by your wisdom, correct me with your justice, comfort me with your mercy,
protect me with your power. I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;
my words: to have you for their theme; my actions: to reflect my love for you;
my sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory. I want to do what you ask of me:
in the way you ask, for as long as you ask, because you ask it.
Lord, enlighten my understanding, strengthen my will,
purify my heart, and make me holy.
Help me to repent of my past sins and to resist temptation in the future.
Help me to rise above my human weaknesses and to grow stronger as a Christian.
Let me love you, my Lord and my God,
and see myself as I really am: a pilgrim in this world,
a Christian called to respect and love all those lives I touch,
those in authority over me or those under my authority,
my friends and my enemies.
Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor.
Help me to forget myself and reach out toward others.
Make me prudent in planning, courageous in taking risks.
Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.
Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer, temperate in food and drink, diligent in my work, firm in my good intentions.
Let my conscience be clear, my conduct without fault, my speech blameless, my life well-ordered.
Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.
Let me cherish your love for me, keep your law, and come at last to your salvation.
Teach me to realize that this world is passing,
that my true future is the happiness of heaven,
that life on earth is short, and the life to come eternal.
Help me to prepare for death with a proper fear of judgment,
but a greater trust in your goodness.
Lead me safely through death to the endless joy of heaven.
Grant this through Christ Our Lord.” Amen
Until next time,