Ash Wednesday

“Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind a blessing, grain offering and libation for the LORD, your God.” (Joel 2:14)

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus reflects on this verse from today’s First Reading:

“We should enter his house in sackcloth and lament night and day between the porch and the altar, in piteous array, and with more piteous voices. [We should] cry aloud without ceasing on behalf of ourselves and the people, sparing nothing, either toil or word, which may propitiate God. [We should] say, “Spare, O Lord, your people, and give not your heritage to reproach,” and the rest of our prayer; surpassing the people in our sense of the affliction as much as in our rank, instructing them in our own persons in compunction and correction of wickedness, and in the consequent longsuffering of God, and cessation of the scourge. Come then, all of you, my brethren, “let us worship and fall down, and weep before the Lord our maker”; let us appoint a public mourning in our various ages and families; let us raise the voice of supplication. Let this, instead of the cry which he hates, enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth. Let us anticipate his anger by confession; let us desire to see him appeased, after [his wrath]. Who knows, he says, if he will turn and choose again, and leave a blessing behind him?” (On His Father’s Silence [Oration 16], 13)

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.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen