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Almighty God, whose church on this day invites your people to a season of repentance, fasting, and reflection on your Word: We give you thanks for our precious freedom in Christ — to behave toward others as he would have us do, to offer up our substance and ourselves, as he did, for your glory and one another, and to set our faces for the holy city of justice, peace, and love, foretold and commanded by the prophets and gospel. In Ukraine and all over the world, people are fighting for their political freedom. This Lent especially, we give you thanks that our freedom is already won through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Photo: In 2017, on my last Ash Wednesday as a parish priest at St John Chrysostom Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, I painted my masterpiece. Dale Griffith considered but declined my offer to send him to the Smithsonian.)