As we begin the season of Lent today, and the sign of the cross is made on our foreheads, may it be much more than a vainglorious, external ritual. Rather, may the ash cross on our foreheads be a reminder to each one of us of the all-encompassing sacrifice that you made for us Jesus, through your suffering and death on the cross. In true humility, and by your grace, may we repent of our sins, and, in response to your forgiving love, grant us the will and commitment to serve all who are poor and oppressed, widows, widowers, orphans, our Indigenous neighbours, refugees, the homeless, those suffering from abuse and addictions of all kinds, those whom the affluent and powerful sideline, forget and exploit. Help us Jesus, our cross-bearing Messiah to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow you. In your precious name, we pray.