Hide yourself today under the banner of ash that will cover your foolish head. Look into your soul to see if you have made space for your Maker. Have you not rather focused on your flesh and all that is passing away? Have you not nearly allowed the eternal spark He has place within you to be extinguished? Stand today to receive the mark of penance and multiply your unseen acts of prayer and fasting. Fan into flame the smoldering wick of your heart with acts of repentance and sorrow over a life spent so selfishly and pridefully. Will not God respond to your humility and contrition with an abundance of mercy and love?
“If we notice carefully, dearest brethren, the holy days of Lent signify the life of the present world, just as Easter prefigures eternal bliss. Now just as we have a kind of sadness in Lent in order that we may rightly rejoice at Easter, so as long as we live in this world we ought to do penance in order that we may be able to receive pardon for our sins in the future and arrive at eternal joy. Each one ought to sigh over his or her own sins, shed tears and give alms in such a way that with God’s help he may always try to avoid the same faults as long as he lives. Just as there never has been, is not now and never will be a soul without slight sins, so with the help and assistance of God we ought to be altogether without serious sins.”1
“Let each one confess his sin, I beseech you, brethren, while he who has sinned is still in this world, while his confession can be admitted, while the satisfaction and remission effected through the priest is pleasing with the Lord. Let us turn to the Lord with our whole mind, and, expressing repentance for our sin with true grief, let us implore God’s mercy. Let the soul prostrate itself before him; let sorrow give satisfaction to him; let our every hope rest upon him. He himself tells how we ought to ask. He says, “Return to me with all your hearts, in fasting and in weeping, and in mourning, and rend your hearts, not your garments.” Let us return to the Lord with a whole heart; let us placate his wrath and displeasure by fastings, weepings and mournings, as he himself admonishes.”2
“What then shall I now do, I who as priest am compelled to cure? […] if there is any one of you who can bear to be cut and cauterized, I can still do it. Behold the scalpel of the prophet: ‘Return,’ he says, ‘to the Lord your God and together with fasting and weeping and mourning rend your hearts.’ Do not fear this incision, dearly beloved. David bore it. He lay in filthy ashes and had his appearance disfigured by a covering of rough sackcloth. He who had once been accustomed to precious stones and to the purple clothed his soul in fasting.”3
- Caesarius of Arles, SERMON 198.1 Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 68). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Cyprian, THE LAPSED 29.5 Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 68). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Pacian of Barcelona, On Penitents, Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 69). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.