"Today, on Ash Wednesday, the pope leads a penitential procession from the Monastery of St. Anselm to the Basilica of Santa Sabina. Ashes are sprinkled on his head before he turns to distribute ashes to those in the community.
We too are marked with the Sign of the Cross in ashes as an acknowledgement of our sins. We do not have to put on sackcloth and sit in ashes or wear a hair shirt to show our sorrow and our need for forgiveness. As we wear those ashes on our foreheads in our everyday lives, we are recognized as people in repentance for our sins. We are recognized as Christians beginning a long forty days of prayer and fasting. No matter how far we have strayed, no matter how bad our sins, Jesus is always there, accepting us back into his life, reminding us to pray and to repent.
Lord, we begin each Lenten season with the mark of ashes upon our foreheads. This mark reminds us of our sinfulness, of our mortality, and of our need for repentance. May we witness this reminder to come to you throughout the year. May we remember this cross of ashes.
Thank you for guiding us in the right direction. Thank you for bringing us to our knees for others and for ourselves. Thank you for always welcoming us back when we have strayed.
Today, we pray for our world. Father, in your great mercy, forgive us."