Our Journey to the Cross

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.

Today's Reading

Daily Meditation: 

A very special day.

The ashes we use are the burnt palms from last year's celebration of Passion Sunday. 
We begin our Lenten journey aware of where we are going.
We want to enter into the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus for us more fully.
That is the purpose of our journey.  It is why we mark our heads with his cross.
It is why we fast today and abstain from meat.

Our Lenten program is not an effort to save ourselves. 
We have been saved by his sacrifice.
Our self-denial helps us, in the darkness that surrounds us,
 to prepare ourselves to receive his light. 
For this is a journey to the Easter font,
 where we will renew the promises of our Baptism, remembering that in dying with him in the waters of Baptism, we are re-born with him to everlasting life.

This year's journey begins today.

Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;

Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. 
For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. 

-  Joel 2:12-13

Prayer Over the Gifts:

Lord, help us to resist temptation by our Lenten works of charity and penance.

By this sacrifice may we be prepared to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ our Savior 
and be cleansed from sin and renewed in spirit.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.


Today God our Father brings us to the beginning of Lent.  
We pray that in this time of salvation 
he will fill us with the Holy Spirit, purify our hearts, 
and strengthen us in love.  
Let us humbly ask him:
Lord, give us your Holy Spirit.

May we be filled and satisfied, 
 - by the word which you give us. 
Teach us to be loving not only in great and exceptional moments, 
 - but above all in the ordinary events of daily life. 
May we abstain from what we do not really need, 
 - and help our brothers and sisters in distress. 
May we bear the wounds of your Son in our bodies, 
 - for through his body he gave us life.


Closing Prayer: 

Lord, it feels like we are embarking on a Lenten journey together, you and I. Today we are invited to let the Holy Spirit 
purify our hearts, and strengthen us in love. 
That feels like what I am looking for - 
or what you are looking for in me. 
I want to remember how much I need you in my life 
and how much my life needs redemption. 
I want to remember it clearly and 
in the background of my day today and all through Lent.

On this special day, Ash Wednesday, 
may my small sacrifices in fasting be a way to clear away 
the clutter in my life to see you more clearly. 
May my longing for meat and other food, 
help me to focus my life today more outside myself. 
Let me be aware of those who are in so much more suffering than I am 
and may I be aware of them as the brothers and sisters you have placed in my life.

Lord, I know there is darkness within me and around me. 
Bless these days with your Word. 
Let your Light shine in the darkness. 
Help me long for that Light 
until we celebrate it at the Vigil six weeks from now.

And most of all Lord, 
help me to honor this day with the ashes on my forehead. 
They help me remember where I have come from and where I am going. 
May I acknowledge to you my sins 
and my deep need for your loving forgiveness and grace. 
I pray that this Lenten season will make me so much more aware 
of how much I need your healing in my life.

Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

It’s Ash Wednesday, and the question of the day is, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

This season is a time for sacrifice, but also for reconciliation, and for a greater awareness of our relationship to God. It is a time to return to God, to acknowledge our shortcomings and atone. “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Lent is a time set aside for repentance, but really, any time is the proper time to repent our sins and seek forgiveness.

The first reading encourages us to come to God for forgiveness, and if we are repentant, he will be merciful. We should turn away from anything that has kept us from God and turn to him in his mercy. We should seek to be better – to be our best selves – and to ask for God in his compassion to help us accomplish that.

Even giving up Starbucks or candy can help us with compassion, and the compassionate thing to do would be to donate the money we would have spent on coffee or chocolate to help someone who has no food or no clean water to drink. Denying ourselves can help us feel solidarity.

Because Lent is not just about giving something up, it’s about getting something, about being better. It’s about recognizing what has kept us down and wanting to be better people. In the Gospel, Jesus does not discourage us from sacrifice, from fasting, from almsgiving, but he discourages us from making a show of it. He says our repentance needs to be from our hearts, and God can see into our hearts. The good works we do should be for the good, not to show off. Are we providing alms to help others because it’s the right thing to do, or so others can see how good and generous we are? The point is to do the right thing, not to show off our generosity.  Our sacrifices can be private, and God will know what’s in our hearts. And our rewards will be bigger than notoriety.

Maybe the question of the day should not be “What are you giving up?” but rather what are we getting in return.

by Tamora Whitney
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
Bible Story illustrations by publishing.com 


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