Ash Wednesday begins Lenten journey

“Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” are the words one hears when ashes are formed in the sign of the cross and imposed on the forehead on Ash Wednesday.

Ashes in the sign of the cross marked the foreheads of Catholics across the Diocese and the world on Ash Wednesday, beginning the journey of 40 days to Easter, to the heart of the Liturgical Year and of the Faith.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass at St. William Parish in Naples and later at the Catholic Center in Venice.

“You are starting your Lenten journey in a spiritual way,” Bishop Dewane said to those at Mass. “That is a good place to begin. But take this opportunity to hear the call of Christ in the Lenten Season. We are all called to do these things – pray-fast-give alms – and to live out through this 40 days; not with great fanfare for all to notice, but within your heart. That is how you can grow closer to the Lord.”

Pope Francis offered suggestions on how to create time to make room for the Word of God.

“It’s the time to turn off the television and to open the Bible,” Pope Francis said. “Lent is a desert, it’s the time to give up, to tear ourselves away from our mobile phone and connect ourselves to the Gospel. It’s the time to give up useless words, slander, rumors and gossip, and to speak and give oneself to the Lord. It’s the time to dedicate oneself to a healthy ecology of the heart, to clean it.”

As Lent continues, it is important to reflect upon the profound mystery of Ash Wednesday and use it as a starting point to grow closer to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The faithful are also encouraged to confess their sins during the Lenten Season. To facilitate this requirement, all Parishes in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present so that the faithful will find ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Confession from 4-8 p.m., Friday, April 3, and 9 a.m.-noon, April 4. Please check with your local parish for additional reconciliation times.