Ash Wednesday: Lenten Journey begins

The opening of the Lenten Season began with the traditional Ash Wednesday Mass, starting a journey which ends prior to the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 6, 2023.

During this journey, one must take time to live the Lenten Season in a particular way, looking internally and answering the question: How can I be an ambassador for the message of Jesus Christ?

Bishop Frank J. Dewane addressed this issue at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers where he celebrated Mass on Feb. 22. The Bishop spoke of putting a renewed focus on the pillars of the Lenten Season – prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday details how each of us “have to go about living our life – in the home, at work, and in society,” Bishop Dewane said. “There has to be a place for these three pillars. There is a tendency to think of them in an interior way, but we must let it well up from within. Christ is calling you and I as ambassadors, in a very visible pronounced way during the Lenten Season.”

As we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of our Faith, these three practices, approached seriously and in a spirit of penance, will ready us for the renewal of baptism at Easter.

  • Pray with Jesus in the desert to gain Faith. Realize you are not just watching Jesus; he gazes with love on you.
  • Fast with Jesus in the desert to learn hope. As we sit with Christ, receive the Spirit and hope that grows as our false material hopes wane.
  • Give alms to grow in love for the suffering of Jesus. We are to see Christ in others. What we do for them, we do for Jesus.

On Ash Wednesday, the imposition of ashes is a solemn ritual that signals the beginning of the holy season of Lent. The ceremony is distinctive; there is no liturgical action like it throughout the entire liturgical year. Ashes come from a previous Palm Sunday. The palms are burned, the ashes collected and then crushed into a fine, sooty powder and placed into bowls, where they are blessed by the priest during the Ash Wednesday Mass after the homily. Then, in a Communion-like procession, people are invited to come forward, and the ashes are applied to each person’s forehead in the shape of a cross as the minister says either, “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15), the usual prayer, or “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), the older, more traditional invocation.

Family Rosary Across America

Also taking place on Ash Wednesday, Bishop Dewane was a special guest of Relevant Radio—the largest Catholic radio network—which hosted a live national broadcast of the Family Rosary Across America in conjunction with Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Parish. The special broadcast, hosted by Father Francis J. Hoffman (best known as “Father Rocky”), executive director and CEO of Relevant Radio, was intended to help the faithful across the country kick-off their Lenten Journey in a positive way. During the broadcast from the Parish Church, Bishop Dewane led the praying of the rosary, joined by Father Rocky and students from Ave Maria University.

Opportunity for Confession in Diocese

The precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season indeed merits recalling for all the Faithful. 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, March 31, and 9 a.m.-noon, Saturday, April 1. Please check with your local Parish for additional reconciliation times.

Parishes frequently add additional times for the Sacrament during Lent, including during Parish Lenten Missions Retreats. In addition, Parishes often combine to have an evening prayer services in a region with additional priests present to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Please visit to find a Parish.