Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14, 17
Jesus said to his disciples:
Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to
be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward
of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when thou
dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as
the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets,
that they may be honoured by men.
Amen I say to you,
they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms,
let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. That
thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in
secret will repay thee. And when ye pray, you shall not
be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the
synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be
seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their
reward. But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber,
and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret:
and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee period.
And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For
they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto
men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their
reward. But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and
wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to fast, but to
thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret,
will repay thee. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth:
where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through
and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where
neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not
break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy
Saint Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Your justice: that is, works of justice; viz., fasting, prayer,
and almsdeeds; which ought to be performed not out of
ostentation, or a view to please men, but solely to please God.
Prayer Knocks, Fasting Obtains, Mercy Receives
From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop (406-450)
There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm,
devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer,
fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains,
mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one,
and they give life to each other.
Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting.
Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you
have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if
you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to
be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to
others you open God’s ear to yourself.
When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you
are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy.
If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you
ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.
Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to
others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness,
as you want others to show mercy to you.
Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our
behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our favor.
Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let
us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more
pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A
sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and
Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your
soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining
your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this
to God will not be excused, for if you are to give Him yourself you are never
without the means of giving.
To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it
is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting
as rain is to the earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the
soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the
springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.
When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin;
when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn.
Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give
to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to
keep what you have refused to give to others.
Young Saint Thomas of Villanueva Dividing his Clothes among Beggar Boys
by Bartolomé Estebán Murillo; 1667; Cincinnati Art Museum; Ohio, US;
The Sermon on the Mount
- Via Vitae ("Way of Life"), a masterpiece of the goldsmith and jeweler Chaumet Paris Joseph (1852-1928) representing key scenes from the life of Jesus Eucharistic museum Hiero, Paray-le-Monial, Saône -et-Loire, France
The Prayer of Saint Ephrem
O Lord and Master of my life, keep
from me the spirit of indifference
and discouragement, lust of power and
Instead, grant to me, Your servant,
the spirit of wholeness of being,
humble-mindedness, patience, and love.
O Lord and King, grant me the grace to
be aware of my sins and not to judge my
brother; for You are blessed now and
O my God! who art all love, I thank
Thee for having established the fast of
Lent to purify my conscience, to strengthen
my virtue, and to make me worthy of approaching
Thy holy table.
Grant me the grace to keep the fast as a
Christian. I am resolved to love God above all
things, and my neighbor as myself for the love of
God; and, in testimony of this love, I will join
fasting with prayer and almsgiving. Amen
Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent - Offering our hearts to God
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The Apostolic Blessing by the Holy See in Rome is bestowed (October 28, 2013)
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