ASH WEDNESDAY 2021 - A RESOURCE FOR FAMILIES

For this Ash Wednesday, it won't be possible to receive blessed ashes in the normal and traditional way. However, it is possible to mark it in a different way. In Churches around our diocese, blessed ashes will be available to take away from the local Church. These ashes will be in small plastic bags and will for the use of families to administer to each other. As you place the blessed ashes on the forehead of a family member or on your own forehead if you are living alone, the following prayer accompanies the marking on the forehead: 'Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel' or 'Remember that you are dust and on to dust you shall return'. Please do not share the bag of ashes with other households.

The liturgical committee in the diocese of Clogher have come up with the following prayer service for families to mark Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent 2021



Introduction

On Ash Wednesday, we begin again our Lenten journey of renewal and conversion. On this day we traditionally had our foreheads marked with ashes in the sign of the Cross with the words: ‘Dust you are and into dust you shall return.’ This year as we are unable to be marked by ashes in our churches, we offer this simple prayer resource to support families in prayer on Ash Wednesday at home. We pray that Lent 2021 will be a journey of renewal for families, for the community, and for the world. Pope Francis, reflecting on the ashes traditionally imposed on our foreheads at the start of Lent, said: “We are dust in the universe. Yet we are dust loved by God.” The Holy Father added that we are precious dust that is destined for eternal life. He described Lent as a time of grace during which we can change our lives by letting God gaze upon us with love. This Ash Wednesday we need so badly to feel God’s gaze of love in the midst of signs of suffering and death all around us as the pandemic continues to claim lives and livelihoods. As we begin our walk with Jesus to the cross and resurrection, we unite our mortality and limits to Christ’s own suffering and passion in order that we might share his divine life. We know that Easter will come and that Christ is risen. We pray for God’s grace this Lent to respond to his loving invitation, the call to repent. In returning to the Father, we experience the deep compassion of God that compels us too, to be compassionate to others. Families are welcometo use whatever part of the resource works best for their family prayer.


COME BACK TO ME - GOD'S LOVING INVITATION

'In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit'.

Opening Prayer:

' Lord, as we begin this holy season of Lent, grant us a change of heart that we might turn away from sin and follow your Son’s Gospel. By your grace, may our lives become more deeply rooted in prayer, self-sacrifice and a willingness to share. Let us walk with you this Lent as we face our own limitations and seek to be your presence in the world. Create in us clean hearts that we might know, love, and serve you better through our service of others. Amen'.


Scripture:

‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent. (Joel 2:12.16) And the Lord said: I will give you a new heart, and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts, and giving you hearts of love. I will put my spirit within you, and make you live by my ways, careful to observe my decrees. (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)



Reflection:

Pope Francis reminds us if we allow ourselves to be shaped by the hands of God, we become - “something wonderous, since we are the dust of the earth, upon which God has poured out his heaven, the dust that contains his dreams. We are God’s hope, his treasure and his glory.” Sin wounds us, our relationship with each other and ultimately with God. Sin leads us into darkness, sorrow, desolation and isolation from those whom we love most. It is in this darkness and isolation that God reaches out to us from the abundance of his love. Lent is a period to return home to the Father and live deeply a new life of love and oneness with God.


‘Lord,I will turn my face towards you. I will lay before you the desert areas I hide And turn to soak in your refreshing words of life I will cast aside the barren, selfish pursuits And turn to rest in the tranquil warmth of your love. I will draw back from the harsh pull of media And turn to bathe in the gentle power of your Spirit. Lord, today Iturn my face towards you.’ (abridged Lenten prayer poem)


Lenten Litany (adapted):


Heavenly Father, this Lent we ask your grace

To fast from judging others and feast on what makes them special, To fast from unkind words and feast on kindness,

To fast from jealousy and feast on offering compliments,

To fast from getting angry and feast on being patient,

To fast from worry and feast on trusting God,

To fast from complaining and feast on gratitude,

To fast from negative thoughts and feast on positive ones,

To fast from nastiness and feast on friendliness,

To fast from greed and feast on giving,

To fast from envy and feast on congratulating,

To fast from conflict and feast on understanding,

To fast from selfishness and feast on helping others,

To fast from doubt and feast on faith,

To fast from holding grudges and feast on forgiveness,

To fast from gloominess and feast on happiness,

To fast from discouragement and feast on hope.


We tracethe Sign ofthe Cross on our foreheads. Together we say the prayer which Jesus taught us.

'Our Father...


Closing Prayer:

'God our Father, You formed us from the dust of the earth and brought us to new life in Christ through the waters of Baptism. We ask you to change our hearts as we journey through these forty days of Lent. Help us to see Jesus in everyone we meet, and to serve him in all persons, especially the poor, the sick and the lonely. By your grace, may our prayers and sacrifices this Lent help us grow closer to each another and to you as one family in Jesus. We make this prayer to you in His name. Amen.


Let us greet Our Mother Mary and ask the help of her prayers.

'Hail Mary... Music Suggestion ‘Come Back To Me’ John Michael Talbot.