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Ash Wednesday Reflection

by Francis Fernandez-Carvajal February 27, 2020 4 min read

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Ash Wednesday Reflection

In Conversation With God Weekly Reflection
An Ash Wednesday Reflection

By Francis Fernandez-Carvajal


2/1.1 Working towards a conversion of heart, especially during this time.

We are at the beginning of Lent, a time of penance and interior renewal to enable us to prepare for Easter.[806] The Church’s liturgy unceasingly invites us to purify our souls and to begin again.

Yet, even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful ...,[807] as we read in the First Reading of Ash Wednesday's Mass. Then as the priest places ashes on our forehead, he reminds us of the words of Genesis, after original sin. Memento homo, quia pulvis es ..., remember man that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.[808]

Memento homo ... Remember! Despite this reminder we sometimes forget that without God we are nothing. Without God, all that remains of man’s greatness is that little pile of dust, in a dish, at one side of the altar, on Ash Wednesday. It is what the Church marks us with on our forehead, as though with our own substance.[809]

God wants us to detach ourselves from the things of the earth and return to him. He wants us to abandon sin, which makes us grow old and die, and for us to return to the fount of life and joy. Jesus Christ himself is the most sublime grace of the whole of Lent. It is He who presents himself to us in all the wonderful simplicity of the Gospel.[810]

To turn our hearts towards God, to be converted, means that we must be prepared to use all the means to live as He expects us to live. We must be absolutely sincere with ourselves. We must try not to serve two masters.[811] We must love God with our whole heart and soul, and flee from any deliberate sin in our lives. Each of us must do this whatever his personal circumstances may be as regards work, health, family, age and so on.

Jesus is looking for a contrite heart within us, a heart that acknowledges its weaknesses and sins and is prepared to disencumber itself of them. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good ...[812] God wants from us a genuine sorrow for our sins which we will manifest, above all, by going to sacramental confession, and by doing small deeds of mortification and penance out of love. For us, conversion means seeking God’s pardon and strength in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is the way to start again and to improve each day.[813] In order to encourage our contrition the Church sets before us in today’s liturgy the Psalm in which King David gave utterance to his repentance, and in the words of which so many saints have begged God for forgiveness. It can help us, too, in these moments of prayer, to say:

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness,
in your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
My offences truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.
A pure heart create for me, O God;
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your Holy Spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me.
O Lord, open my lips

and my mouth shall declare your praise. (Psalm 50)

God will listen to us if today we repeat as an ejaculatory prayer: A pure heart create for me O God; put a steadfast spirit within me.

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[4122] cf Luke 10:27

[4123] Lev 19:9-10

[4124] Lev 19:18

[4125] Luke 10:25-37

[4126] Cardinal M. González Martín, Free, in Charity, p.58

[4127] ibid, p.59

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Francis Fernandez-Carvajal,

Rev. Francis Fernandez-Carvajal

Rev. Francis Fernández-Carvajal is a Priest of the Opus Dei Prelature and the author of many popular spiritual works. His seven-volume series In Conversation with God provides over 500 meditations to be used throughout the liturgical year. It has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into many languages.

Francis Fernandez-Carvajal,

Rev. Francis Fernandez-Carvajal

Rev. Francis Fernández-Carvajal is a Priest of the Opus Dei Prelature and the author of many popular spiritual works. His seven-volume series In Conversation with God provides over 500 meditations to be used throughout the liturgical year. It has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into many languages.



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