February 14 is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a season of prayer and penance. The distribution of ashes is a devotional practice celebrated by the universal Church in many different ways around the world.
Mass & Imposition of Ashes
- 6:30am, 8:10am, 9:15am (AMS Attends) 12:10, 3:30, 5:00, 7:30pm
- Livestream - 8:10am
At Ash Wednesday Mass, ashes will be imposed by making a sign of the Cross on the forehead on all who come forward.
Ash Wednesday is a day of Fast and Abstinence
FASTING means one full meal plus two partial meals, together not equaling one full meal, and not eating between meals for all ages 18-60 in good health.
ABSTINENCE means abstaining from all meat for all ages 14 and over.
Lent is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving - a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord's Resurrection at Easter.
Is Lent really 40 Days?
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. If Sundays are excluded, the season lasts forty days. The forty-day length is rooted in the biblical usage of the number forty. Forty is typically indicative of a time of testing, trial, penance, purification, and renewal. In the New Testament, forty days is the length of Jesus’ time of trial in the desert in preparation for his public ministry, proclaiming the Gospel.
For centuries, Catholic Christians have marked the beginning of the season of Lent by receiving ash on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday. This tradition has its roots in the Old Testament, where wearing ashes was a common sign of repentance for sins, and a sign of one’s humility before God. Since Lent is a season of penitential renewal through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, it’s appropriate that this ancient sign marks the beginning of the season.
Ashes are usually distributed as part of the Mass on Ash Wednesday, often after the homily. As people approach the priest or other minister, he presses the ashes to their foreheads, and speaks one of two phrases: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving
During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ's will more faithfully. We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.
Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection. In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God's gifts—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents.