Ash Wednesday opens Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting, which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. It takes place 40 days before Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the forehead. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.
This year, Ash Wednesday services took place in reverent and prayerful services in Oratory groups, led by Oratory teachers and students. During the services, staff and students were asked to reflect on how they could be better people and become more familiar with Project Compassion and the work of Caritas Australia. This year the theme for Project Compassion is For a Just Future; understanding that we can make a difference to the lives of others by making ‘a just future’. This includes ensuring others have the things all people need, such as food, water, medicine and education, choices and opportunities. It was also an opportunity to reflect and remind ourselves about the meaning of Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season.
I would like to congratulate the boys on their participation and the Oratory Leaders who, as always, led the charge with the upmost respect for the occasion.
I encourage you to spend some time reading and reflecting on the prayer Caritas Australia has written for us this year.
God of all peoples and nations
you accompany us on our Lenten journey.
Through the life and mission of your son,
you give us the gift of mercy.
May we learn to walk your way of justice
and compassion with all your people.
In a special way, we keep in mind the
children, women and men around
the world who are most vulnerable to
extreme poverty and injustice.
In this Year of Youth, may we support
young people as they recognise that
through their efforts, their desire to
change and their generosity, they too
are participating in the building of a
Bless our prayers, our fasting and our
Lenten gifts to Project Compassion.
Through these actions, may our hearts
be open to receive your grace as we work
towards a just future for all your creation.
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
Mrs Nadia Knight