Being marked with ashes on the first day of Lent maintains its powerful appeal. The words that accompany this action are bold and strong. The first option bluntly presents us with Jesus’ call: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The other confronts us with mortality: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Each is a formula of freedom. To repent is to let go of toxic habits of thought and action in favour of love. To be mindful of mortality is to rejoice in the gift of daily life. Both send us on a Lenten journey of liberation.
Dear friends, Jesus cried out, “The time has come, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.” As we set out on our Lenten journey of repentance and renewal, let us ask God for the grace to hear and heed Jesus’ call.
1. We pray for all who have been baptised in Christ; may this season of grace inspire every Christian person and community to bear more compelling witness to the joy of the gospel. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
2. We pray for the catechumens about to be elected for the final phase of their journey to the Easter sacraments; may this Lent accomplish their purification and enlightenment. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
3. We pray for all who have not yet heard the good news of salvation; may they hunger for the truth and be guided by the Spirit of God to the light of Christ. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
4. We pray for the ancient Christian churches of the Middle East facing the threat of annihilation; may they know our solidarity with them and be heartened by the promise of Easter. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
5. We pray for all who are in positions of leadership and influence in this land of Australia; may they be moved to put differences aside and work together to free refugees and asylum seekers from detention. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
6. We pray for the success of this year’s Project Compassion campaign, “Love Your Neighbour”; may the contributions made by the faithful of Australia enable the hungry to take their place at the table of life. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
7. We pray for all who need the healing balm of God’s mercy; may this season of repentance and renewal bless them with the saving grace of forgiveness and new life. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
8. We pray for ourselves; may we give more generously, pray more deeply, and fast more thoughtfully throughout this season of Lent. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
Holy God, we thank and praise you for this favourable time, this day of salvation. Bless our Lenten journey, we pray, and make it bear fruit. May we be led day by day to the freedom of the children of God. We ask this through Christ our Lord.