"Come back to me with all your heart, with fasting, crying and moaning. Tear your hearts and not your garments, return to the Lord your God", quotes the book of the prophet Joel, reading from the Ash Wednesday Mass. And in the Psalm, we hear: "Mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned".
Franciscans, pilgrims and local Christians gathered around the empty tomb of Christ in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to celebrate the beginning of Lent, a time of fasting, penance and prayer.
Br SALVADOR ROSAS FLORES, ofm
President Franciscan Convent of the Holy Sepulchre
"Today's celebration of the Ashes takes place around the Wayside Shrine because this is our goal: Lent is a journey that begins today and its goal is the Resurrection".
The moment of ashes arrives, a symbol that reminds the Christian of his origin and his end, as the book of Genesis tells us: "You are dust and to the dust of the earth you will return! In his homily, Brother Joseph said that the ashes symbolize man's humble earthly condition.
Br JOSEPH KAMWASHI SAMBA, ofm
Custody of the Holy Land
"The ashes come from the olive branches that we use on Palm Sunday of the previous year and that we burn: we collect the ashes, we bless them and then put them on the foreheads of the faithful. As I said in my homily, the ashes remind us of the humble human condition and at the same time call us back to God."
"Yes, it was really very special to be here on this Ash Wednesday...because this day brings us back to the conversion, and what better place than this to ask for the transformation, which we need so much. I, my family and the whole world need conversion. It was very special, it is even difficult to put it into words."
With Ash Wednesday begins the special programming of the celebrations to commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.