February 26 marks Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. This is not a Holy Day of Obligation in the Church, but it is an important day of prayer, fasting, and abstinence to help us prepare our bodies and souls for our partaking in the Paschal mystery. Since it is not a holy day, there is no anticipatory Mass on the evening before it. Yet, Ash Wednesday still has one of the highest attendance rates for any celebration in the liturgical year.
There is something special about this celebration that calls to our hearts. Through it, we remember that we are but dust and that we will return to dust. It is a recognition that our sins lead us to death. It connects us with the death of Jesus himself – who died to take away our sins. The ashes in the first part of the Mass are juxtaposed with the Eucharist in the second part. Through the Eucharist we are connected again into the Body of Christ. And we who have participated in the death of Jesus, are also able to participate in his resurrection.
Please join us for one of our Ash Wednesday liturgies, and have the courage and conviction to display throughout your day those ashes you receive – so that others might also be reminded of our need for a Messiah.
There are also many other activities and events happening throughout the Lenten season to help us make the most of this powerful liturgical season. As part of the call to give alms and support others in need, our parishes participate in Rice Bowl programs and partner with Birthline and the Baby Bottle program to help mothers and infants in need. Please consider picking up one or both of those items, fill them with coins or cash, and return them to your parish office before the end of Lent.
Sunday, March 1st there is a Family Holy Hour at St. Michael’s, beginning at 3 p.m. with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, and a brief talk. After Benediction at 4 p.m., everyone is welcome to stay for a soup supper. Fr. LeRoy and I will be leading a discussion on Bishop Robert Barron’s book, Letter to a Suffering Church on Wednesday, March 4th at 6:30 p.m. at St. Peter’s. Stations of the Cross and Reconciliation services are scheduled through the next six weeks as well. Please take advantage of these opportunities to turn again towards God and be refreshed in body and soul through prayer, fasting, and alms-giving