~Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and that unto dust thou shalt return.
Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent, the season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving in preparation for Easter. On this day, in token of humility and repentance, the faithful receive a cross of blessed ashes on their foreheads.
Thus saith the Lord, be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, in weeping, and in mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but He will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind Him: sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the Church, assemble the elders, gather together the little ones and them that suck at the breasts; let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride from her bride-chamber. Between the porch and the altar the Priests, the Lord's ministers, shall weep; and shall say, Spare O Lord, spare thy people, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them.Why should they say among the Nations, Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for His land, and hath spared His people. And the Lord answered, and said to His people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and you shall be filled with them; and I will no longer make you a reproach among the Gentiles, saith the Lord Almighty (Lesson for the Mass of Ash Wednesday, Joel c. 2, 12-19)
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head and wash thy face; that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will repay thee. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth, where rust and moth doth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also (Gospel for the Mass of Ash Wednesday, Matthew c. 6, 16-21)