Once again the Church and the People of God arrive at that time of the liturgical calendar called the Lenten Season, which begins today with Ash Wednesday.
For the next forty days we will prepare ourselves for the celebration of "the week that changed the world"--Palm/Passion Sunday and the Sacred Triduum--all leading to the greatest feast day of them all: the Resurrection of the Lord.
This is traditionally a time of penance and self-denial. In a sense, it is a built-in retreat. It is an opportunity to grow in holiness, to root out more of the vestiges of sin in our lives, to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect".
The next 6+ weeks, as they have been, are, and will continue to be, is a time to see God as He Is and we as we are.
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
and from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your eyes
So that you are just in your word,
and without reproach in your judgment.
Behold, I was born in guilt,
in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, you desire true sincerity;
and secretly you teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
You will let me hear gladness and joy;
the bones you have crushed will rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities.
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from before your face,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;
uphold me with a willing spirit.