Ash Wednesday


The Dignity to Give and Receive

‘”Nobody is so poor that he/she has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich that he/she has nothing to receive.”  These words by Pope John-Paul II, offer a powerful direction for all who want to work for peace.  No peace is thinkable as long as the world remains divided into two groups:  those who give and those who receive.  Real human dignity is found in giving as well as receiving.  This is true not only for individuals but for nations, cultures, and religious communities as well.

A true vision of peace sees a continuous mutuality between giving and receiving.  Let’s never give anything without asking ourselves what we are receiving from those to whom we give, and let’s never receive anything without asking what we have to give to those from whom we receive.’

Henri J.M. Nouwen

Father Michael Drumm offers a reflection for the beginning of Lent – Ash Wednesday


Psalm 50

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness,
in your great tenderness wipe away my faults;
wash me clean of my guilt,
purify me from my sin.

For I am well aware of my faults,
I have my sin constantly in mind,
having sinned against other than you,
having done what you regard as wrong.

You are just when you pass sentence on me,
blameless when you give judgement.
You know I was born guilty,
a sinner from the moment of conception.

Yet, since you love sincerity of heart,
teach me the secrets of wisdom.
Purify me with hyssop until I am clean;
wash me until I am whiter than snow.

Instil some joy and gladness into me,
let the bones you have crushed rejoice again.
Hide your face from my sins,
wipe out all my guilt.

God, create a clean heart in me,
put into me a new and constant spirit,
do not banish me from your presence,
do not deprive me of you holy spirit.

Be my saviour again, renew my joy,
keep my spirit steady and willing;
and I shall teach transgressors the way to you,
and to you the sinners will return.

Save me from death, God my saviour,
and my tongue will acclaim your righteousness;
Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will speak out your praise.

Sacrifice gives you no pleasure,
were I to offer holocaust, you would not have it.
My sacrifice is this broken spirit,
you will not scorn this crushed and broken heart.

Show your favour graciously to Zion,
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then there will be proper sacrifice to please you
– holocaust and whole oblation –
and young bulls to be offered on your altar.