Redemptorists logo
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Icon
Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
Redemptorists logo


Lent 1: Ash Wednesday

Today we receive ashes on our foreheads to help us remember that we are dust—people living on borrowed time.

We grumble when our stuff or our skin starts to crumble. We cry when we sit at the funeral of loved ones or stand at the grave looking at the box holding their remains. Seeing that casket forces us to be more aware of the Ash Wednesday formula: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

This day, Ash Wednesday, we can choose to come forward publicly to have ashes rubbed onto our forehead and into our consciousness.

It’s a way of telling ourselves: “We only have so much shelf life.” Then we crumble back into the ground from which we came—with the resurrection, with Christ, as the hope that remains.

Tough stuff. On Ash Wednesday, we enter into Lent and are reminded that we live on borrowed time.

Tough stuff. Joel the prophet cries, “Blow the trumpet. Announce the fast. Gather the people. Start the repentance. Move away from sin. Move toward God.”

Then, with a sense of humor, the Ash Wednesday Gospel has Jesus telling us to go stealth: “Wash your face. Go into your inner room and start your praying there. Then, living on borrowed time, go out and give to the poor.” Give up. Fast. Rise.

Father Andy Costello, C.Ss.R.
Annapolis, Md.

Scripture readings for the day: Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18