About Ash Wednesday

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About Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season of preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.  After the homily at the Eucharist, the ashes, which give Ash Wednesday its name, are blessed.  The ashes are made from burning the blessed palms that were distributed the previous year on Palm Sunday.  Ashes have traditionally been a sign of penance.   They are distributed with the sign of the cross on the forehead and with the words: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

Receiving the ashes

How are we called to be faithful to the Gospel?  In the readings at the Eucharist we heard that we are called to return to God with our whole hearts, to be ambassadors of Christ through reconciliation. . .

. . .and to do our righteous deeds in secret, not for show or acclaim, so that the Father, who sees what is hidden, will bless us.


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“Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict