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Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting, traditionally observed by Western Christians, and marks the first day of Lent, the six weeks of penitence before Easter. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday and falls on the first day of Lent, the six weeks of penitence before Easter.

If you get your ashes today you most likely will hear these words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or, “Repent and believe in the Gospel”, as the ashes are put on your forehead while making the sign of the cross.

Many Christians will be asked – what do the ashes mean – but not all will know just how to answer that. So, here’s some info you can pass on:

Ashes are made from burning of the church’s Palm Sunday palm branches, and mixing the ash with holy water to create a light paste. Sometimes the ashes are used dry, without holy water.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent.

But what is Lent?

Lent comes before Easter, and is a preparation for that feast, which is one of the most important in the Church’s life.

The Church says that Lent is a 40-day period of unity with “the mystery of Jesus in the desert.”

By sacrificing small things, as well as fasting, praying, and giving to charity, Catholics are invited to experience a period of prayer like the one Jesus experienced, and to prepare themselves.

At the beginning of his public life, according to biblical writings, Jesus was baptized by his cousin, prophet and teacher, John the Baptist, in the Jordan River, and he urged people to be baptized as a sign of their repentance from sin.

After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him “like a dove,” and a voice from heaven said “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

People were amazed, but Jesus immediately went away by himself into the desert. There he fasted and prayed, and while he was there, Satan appeared to him three times, tempting him.

Jesus stayed in the desert for 40 days. When he left the desert, he began calling his disciples and apostles, as the mission that led to his crucifixion had begun.

The Message for Lent 2020

In his Message for Lent 2020, Pope Francis points to the Easter as the basis of conversion, which invites us to a relationship of openness and fruitful dialogue, and to reject “the lie that our life is ours to do as we will”.

Pope Francis says that during this season of Lent, he wants to invite the faithful to fix their eyes on the Lord, and “allow ourselves to be saved over and over again”.

The importance of prayer is stressed as a means of responding to God’s love and mercy. This means being personally committed to and involved in “the building of a better world”.

This year the Pope will be holding a meeting at the end of March “with young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers, with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy”.

NOTE: St. John’s in Barrington is offering “drive-through” ashes – say a prayer in your car and get your ashes…it’s a national trend.

#CoronaSafe Note: In Europe, you can opt for having ashes sprinkled on your head, rather than placed on your forehead.

More details can be found here:

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope.html

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/fasting-and-abstinence-at-lent-a-cna-explainer-65099

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