Ash Wednesday is the first day of the liturgical season of Lent. The meaning behind tracing a cross on our foreheads with ashes is a summary of our Christian life. On one level, the ashes remind us of our origin and our death. The ashes are also the sign of our victory: the cross of Christ. In his death and resurrection, Christ conquered death. Our destiny as Christians is to receive the victory over death that Christ won for us.
In this season, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the high point of our Christian life, Easter. Each year, the readings for Ash Wednesday are the same. They call us to a change of heart and teach us about the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These disciplines are to be part of the Christian life during every season, but during the season of Lent, we renew our commitment to them.
Joel 2:12-18 Return to the Lord for he is merciful
Responsorial Psalm 51:3-6b, 12-14, 17
Create a clean heart in us, O God, and be merciful.
Sung version HERE
2 Cor 5:20-6:2 Be reconciled to God: now is the day of salvation
Gospel. Matt 6:1-6, 16-18 Jesus teaches that prayer, fasting and almsgiving should be done in secret.
Message from Pope Francis - Lent: a time for renewing Faith, Hope and Love
'Dear brothers and sisters, every moment of our lives is a time for believing, hoping and loving. The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father.'
The full 2021 Lenten Message from Pope Francis is available to view HERE
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has prepared Lent 2021 resources for parishes and schools. These include a Reflection programme in te Reo, Samoan, Tongan and English, a poster and school resources.
To view and download 2021 Caritas resources click HERE