In the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season of preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.
Ashes will be distributed at St. Mary’s during Mass at 8:00 am and 12:10 pm. The ashes are made by burning the blessed palms that were distributed the previous year on Palm Sunday. The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness.
The Church emphasizes the penitential nature of Ash Wednesday by calling us to fast and abstain from meat. Catholics who are over the age of 14 are required to refrain from eating any meat, or any food made with meat, on Ash Wednesday. This fasting and abstinence is not simply a form of penance, however; it is also a call for us to take stock of our spiritual lives. As Lent begins, we should set specific spiritual goals we would like to reach before Easter and decide how we will pursue them — for instance, by going to daily Mass when we can and receiving the Sacrament of Confession more often.