Ash Wednesday

A man in white sitting on a rock in a desert

Daily Offering

Set me free this day my God from all that holds me back from compassion, all the fear, the hesitation and the doubt. Grant me the grace to show your caring face to one unexpected person today.

Philip Harrison SJ

Entering into Prayer

Find a comfortable position, quieten yourself. Become aware of sounds inside and outside the room. Don’t dwell on any particular sound but listen for as many different sounds as possible, particularly the subtle, quieter sounds. Don’t let noises annoy you. Just accept whatever you can hear. Enter into the quiet space within. God is Present: God is with you. Ask God to inspire your prayer time. Ask for what you desire. What gift, what grace do you want right now?

Today's Scripture 

Even now, says the LORD,

return to me with your whole heart,

with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;

Rend your hearts, not your garments,

and return to the LORD, your God.

For gracious and merciful is he,

slow to anger, rich in kindness,

and relenting in punishment.

Perhaps he will again relent

and leave behind him a blessing,

Offerings and libations

for the LORD, your God.

Food for Thought

Perhaps these words from Paddy Purnell SJ are a good reminder for us this Lent:

‘I’m prone to distractions, God.

I find it hard

To keep my thoughts on you.’

God looked down

And sighed: ‘I wish I could say

The same about you.

I can’t get you out of my mind.’   

Today’s readings invite us to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These traditional Lenten practices are offered to us each Ash Wednesday as ways to enable us to be more open to God, to ourselvesand to others. How difficult it can be for us to refocus ourselves and re-centre ourselves. How uncomfortable it can feel at first, and yet the invitation is to come home – home to God and to the best version of ourselves that we can be.


Suggestions for Prayer

Slowly read the passage. Stop where a word or phrase strikes you. Savour it as long as there is something in it for you.

The passage may trigger off thoughts on your life – that is OK, go with the flow. Talk to God in your own words. Allow time for a reply. Stay in silence before God. Move on to the next phrase when you are ready, or if you become distracted, and again, stop when something strikes you. Take your time.  When your prayer time is nearly at an end, finish with a short formal prayer such as the Our Father, or Glory be… The idea is not so much to think about the passage as to let it engage your feelings, emotions and life. The questions to ask when looking back on the prayer are:

• What struck me?

• How did I react and feel?

• Does this tell me anything about God, myself, or the way I relate to God or to others?

How are you going to respond today?

Today you might like to recommit yourself to build time for prayer into your day.

Image for the Day

A man in white sitting on a rock in a desert 

  • What does this image say to you?

  • What would you say to Jesus if you could sit with him today?

  • What do you think Jesus would say to you?

Examen (review of prayer)

At the end of your prayer you can look back and ask: Does it have something to say to you? How does it make you feel? Imagine how God might reply.

Conversation: When you come towards the end of your time of prayer, talk to God about what has come up for you. End with a formal prayer, such as the Lord’s Prayer/Our Father.

Going Deeper 

How to Pray

Introduction to the Examen

Thoughts for Ash Wednesday