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The 14th of February marks for many Christians worldwide Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday symbolizes the first day of Lent and is traditionally observed with fasting and abstinence from meat and other animal products. Ash Wednesday derives its name from this practice, in which placement of ashes on the forehead is accompanied by the words, “for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Lent is a period of lament which ends with the great celebration of Easter.

• Crucfied Christ, in this season of fasting and lament we are reminded of our mortality more than ever. As we fast, let us remember those starving in Gaza. As we place ashes on our foreheads, let us remember the Palestinians turned into dust by bombs. Lord, help us understand the message of Ash Wednesday which encourages not to be despaired from death, but to await the death of despair and suffering.

Lord in your mercy… hear our prayer