Thoughts for Lent, Ash Wednesday

God's Own Sermon

"Remember, man, that you are dust." - Roman Missal

There is a sermon that is always being preached, not by the tongue of man, but by the myriad voices of God's vast universe. Day and night, without ceasing, in every land, among all peoples, in the universal language of nature - the language that is foreign to none of the children of men - God is preaching his sermon. He is whispering it upon every breeze, booming it with every thunderclap, flashing it upon the clouds with the lightnings. His message is trailing its way in a blaze of fire across the sky "from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof." All nature is a panorama created to illustrate the sermon of God, painted in colors gay and somber by turn to catch the fickle eye of man, the spectator. All the universe is one vast stage for the enacting of the drama that God has written. All human history is a pageant, a never-ending procession passing before the bewildered eyes of mankind, and upon every banner in that pageant is written the motto that God would have us read. And yet this obvious lesson is one we never learn. The sermon is one to which we will not listen. The pageant passes in review, but we gaze as in a stupor, seeing but not understanding. For the sermon, the lesson, the play, the pageant, the spectacle, is "Life and Death."

- Father James M Gillis

The past weeks leading to Lent have suggested reflection on the diseases of our souls, and tended towards a realization of the depths of the wounds sin has inflicted on us; we should now be in some measure prepared for the penance the Church is offering us. For we know, better than we did, God's justice and holiness, as well as the dangers to which an impenitent soul lies exposed; while to encourage in our own a sincere and lasting amendment, we lay aside the unprofitable joys and idle amusements of the world. The ashes have been scattered on our heads, and we have been humiliated by the sentence of death pronounced over us.

In the course of this trial of forty days, which our weakness only finds long, we shall not be deprived of our Savior's presence. He has preceded and outpaced us on the royal road. He has tried it and accomplished its course before us, in order to answer, by His example, the excuses and arguments our self-indulgence or pride may urge. Let us accept the lesson fully, and so arrive at an understanding of the law of expiation. "Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is drawing near." Let us open our heart to this appeal, that the Savior may not be compelled to awake us from our lethargy by the terrible threat He employed on another occasion: "If you do not repent you shall all perish."

- Dom Prosper Gueranger

Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth, where the rust and moth consume and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven.

Forgive my sins, O my God, forgive my sins: the sins of youth, the sins of age; the sins of my soul and the sins of my body; the sins which, through frailty, I have committed; my deliberate and grievous sins, the sins I know and the sins I do not know, the sins I have labored so long to hide from others, that now they are hidden from my own memory; let me be absolved from all these iniquities, and delivered from the bond of all these evils, by the Life, Passion, and Death of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

- the texts are taken from -