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Ash Wednesday 

Epistle  •  Joel 2:12-19

Lesson from the Prophet Joel.

[Almighty God is rich in mercy and clemency to those who are converted to Him in fasting, in weeping and in mourning.]

Thus saith the Lord: Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but He will return and forgive and leave a blessing behind Him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God?

Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the Church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed and the bride out of her bride chamber.

Between the porch and the altar the priests, the LordÂ’s ministers, shall weep and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people; and give not Thine inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for His land, and hath spared His people.

And the Lord answered and said to His people: Behold I will send you corn and wine and oil, and you shall be filled with them: and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations: saith the Lord Almighty.  



Gospel  •  Matthew 6:16-21

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. 

[It is not our garments that we should rend as a sign of sorrow, as the Pharisees did, but rather our hearts, for it is not to men that we should appear to fast, but to our Father, Who sees into the secret place of our souls, and Who will repay us.]

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their face, 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 heart also.