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, March 28, 2024.

During this journey, one must take time to live the Lenten Season in a particular way, through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, the three traditional disciplines of Lent.

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.

While the ashes marked on one’s forehead do not last very long, their purpose is to cleanse and purify our inner heart. Having a clean heart is a key part of living one’s faith life, and the precept of confessing grave sins at least once during the Lenten Season merits a reminder.

To facilitate this requirement, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present 4 to 8 p.m., Friday, March 22, and 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 23. Check with your local Parish for additional confession times or the availability of a Penance Service. These opportunities are made available so that the faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

 

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