“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart….” (Joel 2:12)
Alternative Opening Prayer
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 disciple 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.
Blessing of ashes
You are moved by humility
and grant pardon to those who repent.
Listen to our prayers
And pour out + your blessing
on those who are marked by these ashes,
that, observing the season of Lent,
they may come with hearts made clean
to celebrate the paschal mystery of your Son.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.