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.

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.

Lenten journey begins Feb. 26

“Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death.”

These words from Pope Francis should resonate with all Catholics and serve to remind us that the coming Liturgical Season has great significance and meaning.

During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to practice self-control through fasting.

Lent lasts for 40 days – excluding Sundays – from Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26) to the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, which this year falls on April 9. It is a reminder of Christ’s 40 days of temptation and fasting in the desert, and of Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the desert.

This penitential season of fasting, alms-giving, and special prayer is like a spiritual cleansing and renewal to draw closer to God.

The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.

Joshua Mazrin, Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization, said Lent is the ideal time to focus on becoming “A Disciple of Christ.”

“Discipleship is truly following the Lord,” Mazrin explained. “For Lent Jesus gives us an example by first going to the desert to fast and pray.” Christ teaches us:

  • To fast in order to grow in physical discipline. Fast intentionally – not just because it’s an old written down tradition, but in order to grow in mastery over your flesh and your passions;
  • To give alms in order to have detachment. We don’t give alms just because it’s nice. We give alms to help those in need as well as to not have an inordinate attachment to physical possessions;
  • To pray. We pray to grow in our relationship with God and as an act of humility. Humility helps us imitate Christ and a great example of humility is Mary.

Mazrin went on to explain that there are some practical things one can do to be “A Disciple of Christ” during Lent.

“Give up something specific for Lent not just to give something up, but something that will challenge you to grow in an area that will be beneficial to you and your relationship with God;” he continued. “Pray more intentionally. Meditate on purpose.  Pray the rosary, go to Mass an extra time during the week, pick up your bible and actually try to go deeper in it! Give alms, volunteer your time, try to see things from the perspective of someone less fortunate than yourself.”

During Lent, it is common to participate in a retreat or the Stations of the Cross, allowing the opportunity for one to refocus on the Lord in different ways. Check with your local Parish for these and other Lenten activities.

The precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season merits a reminder to the Faithful. To facilitate this requirement, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present 4 to 8 p.m., Friday, April 3, and 9 noon, Saturday, April 4. Additional times for the Sacrament are also offered so that the Faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s mercy. Parishes also combine to have an evening prayer service with many priests present to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Again, check with your local Parish for additional reconciliation times.

During Lent, a group of catechumens and candidates will be coming into the full communion with the Church. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will preside over the Rite of Election, at 2:30 p.m., on the first Sunday of Lent, March 1, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

This annual tradition is a formal Rite during which catechumens are presented and their names are entered into the Book of Elect. This year, 112 catechumens will be joined by an additional 185 candidates who will also participate in the formal ceremony and be recognized during the celebration for answering the call to their continuing conversion.

Dates of note

In addition to Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, where one can receive ashes, there are several other key dates of note on the Liturgical Calendar.

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 19, Bishop Dewane will be celebrating 8 a.m., Mass at St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th Ave. W., Bradenton, and then 12:30 p.m. Mass in Italian at Epiphany Cathedral, 3350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass in Venice is at the invitation of the Italian-American Club and will include a traditional blessing of the bread and procession.

On the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25, many Parishes add additional Mass to accommodate this day. The day also marks the start of the annual Novena for Mass for Life, a special opportunity to meditate on the progressive development of Our Lord in His mother’s womb.  The hope is that this meditation will help people to reflect on the sanctity of all human life, from fertilization/conception to birth and throughout life until natural death, regardless of age or condition.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, April 5, is the day the Church remembers Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. The commemoration with the blessing of the palms and procession, is a ritual action that marks our own entry into Holy Week.

During Holy Week is the annual Chrism Mass, 10:30 a.m., April 7, at Epiphany Cathedral. The Chrism Mass is the largest gathering of priests in the Diocese and a time when they join Bishop Dewane in a celebration of the unity of the priesthood and when the holy oils used in the Sacraments are blessed and consecrated.

For more information about Lent and related activities taking place in the Diocese, or at local Parishes, please visit


Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, and Good Friday, April 10, are days of fast and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence from meat.

Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics between the ages of 18 years and 59 years (inclusive). On a fast day one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is to continue until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” is to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily His Resurrection.

Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age and older on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent, including Good Friday.

Note: If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, they are urged to practice other forms of self-denial that are suitable to their condition.

Ash Wednesday marks beginning of Lenten Journey

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

“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.

The ashes come from the blessed Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year and the moment serves as a launching point for one’s Lenten Journey of praying, of fasting, of almsgiving – sacrifice.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane stressed during a Mass at St. William Parish in Naples, that on this journey of salvation, as one moves forward, one is called to discipline oneself to be the ever more for the Lord. A key component of this is to renew one’s heart, the Bishop added.

While attending Mass on Ash Wednesday is a good start, Bishop Dewane said that it is very easy to get too busy with the motions of the Lenten Season and miss the motivation.

“Why is it we are here? What is it we do? Why do we do it?” the Bishop asked. “It is in our heart, as human beings, where that love and motivation can most profoundly occur. Go forward – as you are starting out well – but look at the motivation. If one needs to make more connections with the Lord, do so. Be very mindful in expressing to the Lord, clearly in one’s prayer, what it is that motivates you and also seek the help one needs from the Lord.

The ashes were used as a sign of repentance in the Old Testament, and to serve as a public sign of our intent to die to our worldly desires and live in Christ. Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief for our sins.

Pope Francis said on Ash Wednesday that fasting from food or other things during Lent is a chance for Catholics to reorient their material attachments, and the Holy Father urged people to slow down and turn to Christ during the penitential season.

The Pope added that the three area of focuses during Lent serve as an invitation from the Lord. “Prayer reunites us to God; charity, to our neighbor; fasting, to ourselves.”