"Even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts." —Joel 2:12-13
When we receive ashen crosses on our foreheads, we are saying:
- We have sinned (1 Jn 1:9).
- We have sinned seriously because we have sinned against an all-holy God Who has loved us perfectly (see 1 Jn 4:16).
- We have repented.
- We publicly admit that we are responsible to begin repairing the extensive damages from our sins.
- We have hope in Jesus and His cross.
- We are beginning a lifestyle of repentance and reparation, especially during the Lenten season.
Because of the meanings of our ashen crosses, receiving ashes is not a trivial matter. We may even decide to delay the reception of ashes until our hearts match our words, for to receive ashes is to rend our hearts (Jl 2:13). The Lord calls us to tear our hearts because they are hardened (Ps 95:8) and need to be cleansed (Ps 51:12). An open, cleansed heart is wholly surrendered to the Lord (see Jl 2:12).
Will the ashen cross remain on your heart after it has been wiped off your forehead? Do you have the heart to receive ashes today?
Prayer: Crucified Jesus, make my heart like Yours.
Promise: "Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" —2 Cor 6:2
Praise: Margaret makes a point of going to a morning Mass on Ash Wednesday so she can have the opportunity to explain the ashes to others throughout the day.
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, August 18, 2001
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2001