Lent is beginning, a time of penance and interior renewal in preparation for the Lord's Easter. The liturgy of the Church invites us unceasingly to purify our souls and to begin anew.
The Lord Almighty says: Convert to me with all your heart: with fasting, with weeping, with mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, but turn to the Lord our God, for he is compassionate and merciful..., we read in the First Reading of today's Mass. And, at the moment of the imposition of ashes on our heads, the priest reminds us of the words of Genesis, after the original sin: Memento homo, quia pulvis es.... Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Memento homo... Remember... And yet, sometimes we forget that without the Lord we are nothing. "Of man's greatness there remains, without God, nothing but this little heap of dust, on a plate, at one end of the altar, on this Ash Wednesday, with which the Church marks us on the forehead as with our own substance".
The Lord wants us to detach ourselves from the things of the earth to turn to Him, and to leave sin, which ages and kills, and return to the Source of Life and joy: "Jesus Christ Himself is the most sublime grace of all Lent. It is He Himself who presents Himself to us in the admirable simplicity of the Gospel".
To turn our hearts to God, to convert, means to be ready to do everything possible to live as He expects us to live, to be sincere with ourselves, not to try to serve two masters, to love God with all our souls and to put away from our lives any deliberate sin. And this, in the midst of the circumstances of work, health, family, etc., proper to each one of us.
Jesus looks for in us a contrite heart that knows its faults and sins and is willing to eliminate them. You will remember your evil ways, your days that were not good. .... The Lord desires a sincere sorrow for sins, which will be manifested above all in sacramental Confession, and also in small works of mortification and penance done out of love: "To convert means for us to seek God's forgiveness and strength again in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and thus always begin again, to go forward each day".
To encourage our contrition, the Church proposes to us, in today's liturgy, the Psalm in which King David expressed his repentance and with which so many saints have begged forgiveness from the Lord. It also helps us in these moments of prayer: Mercy, my God, by your goodness, by your immense compassion wipe away my guilt, we say to Jesus.
Wash away my crime, cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my guilt, I am ever mindful of my sin. Against you, against you alone have I sinned.
O God, create in me a pure heart, renew me within with a steadfast spirit, do not cast me away from your face, do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, strengthen me with a generous spirit. Lord, you will open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
The Lord will attend to us if today we repeat to him from our hearts, as an ejaculatory prayer: O God, create in me a pure heart, renew me within with a steadfast spirit.