Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Our Great Lent Begins
It is important for us today to remember that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. Also remember that today is one of only two obligatory fast days in the Church, the other being Good Friday.
Psalm 90 captures well the spirit of Ash Wednesday:
"Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations. Before the mountains were born, the earth and the world brought forth, from eternity to eternity you are God. A thousand years in your eyes are merely a yesterday,
But humans you return to dust, saying, 'Return, you mortals!' Before a watch passes in the night, you have brought them to their end; They disappear like sleep at dawn; they are like grass that dies. It sprouts green in the morning; by evening it is dry and withered.
Truly we are consumed by your anger, filled with terror by your wrath. You have kept our faults before you, our hidden sins exposed to your sight. Our life ebbs away under your wrath; our years end like a sigh. Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong; Most of them are sorrow and toil; they pass quickly, we are all but gone.
Who comprehends your terrible anger? Your wrath matches the fear it inspires. Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Relent, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy. Make us glad as many days as you humbled us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. Show your deeds to your servants, your glory to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!"