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 1, 2021.

During this journey, one must take time to live the Lenten Season in a particular way, looking internally and answering the question: What more can I do to respond to the goodness of the Lord in my life?

Bishop Frank J. Dewane addressed this issue at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers where he celebrated Mass on Feb. 17, 2021. The Bishop spoke of the need to “up the personal spiritual ante” during Lent, with a renewed focus on the pillars of the Season, prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

“We have to take a look at our lives and do more,” Bishop Dewane said. “Am I acting in a prayerful spirit? Is my fasting more than just a diet or the elimination of something inconsequential, or are you changing the way you live your life in a meaningful way? Is my almsgiving more than giving money, because there are so many more things we can do now to help, especially in this time of the Pandemic?”

The Pandemic may make the Lenten Journey different in terms of how we live out that call of Christ, but is all about our response to the Lord, the Bishop continued.

“Yes, we live in a difficult time, but take that experience and let it make us be more demonstrative of the love from which we were created and called, by giving to those around us, reflecting the light of Christ in our lives,” Bishop Dewane concluded.

According to Pope Francis, Lent is about more than the little sacrifices we make, but about realizing where our hearts are oriented, and turning them back toward relationship with God.

“Lent is a journey that involves our whole life, our entire being,” the Holy Father said during an Ash Wednesday Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope advised people to reflect on stories of conversion in Sacred Scripture to know how to start the journey of the Lenten season.

Necessitated in response to the Pandemic, the distribution of ashes was changed to avoid direct contact. Therefore, ashes were sprinkled on the head of the penitents rather than in the sign of the cross on the forehead. This change was directed by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments and is a practice which is common in Europe.

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, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present from 4-8 p.m., Friday, March 26, and 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 27.

Additional times for the Sacrament are also offered so that the Faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s mercy. Parishes also could combine to have an evening prayer service with additional priests present to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Check with your local Parish for additional reconciliation times.