OUR JOURNEY TO THE CROSS: LENT - EASTER
Let the wasteland rejoice and bloom’
We begin our Lenten journey on ASH WEDNESDAY by having our heads marked with ashes made from the burned palm crosses blessed the year before.
Ashes are a sign of our penance, the sorrow for our sins and a commitment to believe the gospel, praying that the same Spirit who led Jesus into the desert will lead us through Lent. Marked with a cross of ashes may we come to the tree of glory.
We prune our lives of all that is unnecessary: embracing fasting, that through the fruits of our sacrifice we will bring comfort and aid to others.
May the prophecy of Isaiah be true for us: “Let the desert and the dry lands be glad, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it burst into flower, let it rejoice and sing for joy’ (Isaiah 35:1-2)
As we begin our Lenten journey we turn to the Lord in a corporate act of penitence, acknowledging our need for his forgiveness and love, his grace and strength.
As we set our faces toward the paschal celebration of Christ’s saving death and resurrection, we pray that we may use the season of Lent as a favourable time of preparation, a time of sacrifice and fasting, a time of reconciliation and service of our neighbour, so that reconciled with God and one another, we may embrace the gospel of Christ and rejoice in his Passover Feast.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel
It is a custom, known from as early as the tenth century, that ashes are used as a sign or mark of our repentance: a physical, symbolic gesture of sorrow for our sins and our need for God’s loving forgiveness. The ashes used today come from the branches blessed the preceding year for Palm Sunday.
In the Bible, when people turn away from sin there is that mention of ‘sackcloth and ashes. ’ Ashes are a sign of penitence and purification. It may seem a rather absurd thing to do—to place ashes on our head. Most people would prefer to apply some kind of substance that beautifies or makes us look younger! The ashes remind us both of the ugliness of sin, and is a commitment to the gospel of Christ.