Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 17th


Joel 2: 12-18
Psalms 51: 3, 5-6ab, 12-14
2 Corinthians 5: 20 – 6:2
Matthew 6: 1-6 – 16-18


“A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.”  Ps. 51: 12

This psalm is a prayer of repentance that confesses our wrongdoing and recognizes God’s just punishment that follows.  It’s not unlike the Act of Contrition we grew up with, detesting our sin “because of your just punishment” and acknowledging an offense against God, who is “all good and deserving of all my love.”  The psalm goes on to ask God to remember that we are human and are bound to fall short by the nature of our being.  But God knows our heart, and we call on God’s mercy and goodness to free us from our guilt and cleanse us from our sin.

The psalm goes even further in asking God for a fresh start…a clean heart and a renewed spirit to get back on track and stay steadfast in our resolve.  But as the Act of Contrition rightly states, “I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace…”  We cannot right our wrongs and stay faithful to our relationships with God and our dear neighbor without it.  And God’s grace comes in many ways to help us meet whatever challenges each day brings.  It might be a prayer, a sound, a quiet meditation, a conversation, a poem, a song, or a walk.  We may falter and lose our bearings, but we know and believe that God is understanding, merciful, and forgiving.


Loving God, you know my deepest heart and claim me as your own.  Renew my desire to remain steadfast in your love.  But when I fail to remember who I am and who I’m supposed to be, I ask for your grace and mercy to reconcile myself to you and my dear neighbor.

Personal Challenge

Recognize what graces you’ve received this day to strengthen your resolve…and thank God for them.

Jim Boyd – CSJ Associate
Chicago, IL

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