Presider’s Page for Ash Wednesday (1 March 2017)

Opening comment (for Presiders)

Welcome to the season of Lent. Today we begin the journey of penance and reflection that will bring us to the celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter time. Let us pray for the grace to keep Lent faithfully… (Pause for silent prayer: the Opening Prayer follows immediately.)

Alternative Opening Prayer (from 1998 ICEL Missal)

Gracious and merciful God,
you look with love upon a sinful people
and desire only their return to you.
We beg of you the grace to live this holy season,
to persevere in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
By the discipline of Lent, purify our hearts of all pretension,
bring us back to you, and make the whole Church ready
to celebrate the mysteries of Easter.
Grant this through Christ, our liberator from sin,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
holy and mighty God for ever and ever.

Introduction to the Scripture Readings (for Ministers of the Word)

Joel 2:12-18 — A call to the community to turn back to the Lord, fasting and asking for mercy. 2 Corinthians 5:20 to 6:2 — Paul’s message is clear: now is the time to be reconciled to God. Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 — Jesus invites his followers to be converted in their hearts, and warns them against ‘making a show of themselves’!

The Blessing and Giving of Ashes follows the Gospel (or homily).



Introduction (by the Presider) Brothers and sisters, our God is full of mercy and compassion, so let us ask for divine help:

  1. That all who are signed with ashes today may turn back to God during this holy season (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
  2. That those who have grown lukewarm may find new enthusiasm in their faith (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
  3. That people in need throughout the world may benefit from our lenten practices (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
  4. That, during this season, we may learn to set our own interests aside and work for the good of others (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.

Conclusion (by the Presider) God of mercy and compassion, you cleanse us and give us your help: hear the prayers your people make in faith, through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Lord God,
as Lent begins we offer you this solemn sacrifice,
begging that through our works of charity and penance
we may turn away from sin and harmful pleasures
and unite ourselves more closely to the passion of your Son,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


PREFACE (Lent 1)

It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Each year you bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts
and prepare with joy for the paschal feast.
By more faithful prayer and works of charity
and by celebrating the mysteries of our rebirth,
we are led to the fullness of grace as your sons and daughters.
And so, with angels and archangels,
with all the heavenly host,
we proclaim your glory
and join their unending chorus of praise: HOLY….



may the sacrament we have received in faith
sustain and strengthen us,
so that our Lenten fast may win favour in your sight
and help to remedy our human weakness.
Grant this in the name of Jesus, the Lord.

Liturgical Suggestions The church is bare of flowers or other ornaments today: everything looks ‘lenten’. The penitential rite is replaced by the blessing and giving of ashes (after the Gospel). If this is not possible because of time constraints, celebrate a Liturgy of the Word (with the readings of the day) followed by a service of ashes, Our Father and Final Blessing.

Suggested Songs: ‘God of Mercy and Compassion’, ‘Renew your hearts’, ‘Praise to the holiest’.


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