Ash Wednesday and Lent

Hello, lovely readers!

This week, I’d like to talk about something a bit different from Newman. Since Ash Wednesday was yesterday, I’d like to talk about Ash Wednesday and Lent.

 

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My roommate, Colleen, and I after the 8 a.m. Ash Wednesday Mass, March 1, 2017. 

 

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of a 40 day (46 days if you include Sundays) period leading up to Easter. Ash Wednesday is celebrated with attending a Mass where you have ashes placed on your forehead in the shape of a cross. This can be seen in the picture above. The major difference there is between an Ash Wednesday Mass and a regular Mass is the distribution of ashes. When we go up to receive the ashes, we go up like we would to receive communion. One of the things that the priest/deacon/distributor will say while putting the ash on your forehead is “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

And as Catholics, many of us have become accustomed to receiving strange looks or comments about the ashes, especially if you receive them earlier in the day. Some experiences I had this year were a professor making conversation about it, a couple of classmates commenting on it, a different professor asking about it, and someone asking what it was or the meaning of it. So, long story short, we’re used to being prepared for any comments/questions.

 

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A group of students that attended the 8 a.m. Mass.

 

Here in Murray, we only have one Catholic Church, which is St. Leo. This year, St. Leo had four Masses to celebrate Ash Wednesday. The Mass times were: 8 a.m., 12:05 p.m., 6 p.m., and an 8 p.m. Spanish Mass. As seen above, a group of us students attended the 8 a.m. Mass. Us girls sat together and took up nearly an entire pew.

Ash Wednesday isn’t only marked by the placing of ashes on our foreheads, but it is also one of the two days of Lent in which much of the Catholic population fasts and abstains from meat. The other day we do both is on Good Friday. On the rest of the Fridays of Lent, many are just required to abstain from meat. Of course, there are certain age limits and exceptions to this rule. FOCUS has published an infographic that explains some of the rules that apply to fasting and abstinence.

Not only did St. Leo host Ash Wednesday Masses, but there are some things that the church is doing for Lent. One of them is Adoration at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Confessions will also be available during this time. Something that might be an iconic thing for Lent are fish fries. St. Leo will be beginning their fish fries tomorrow (March 3rd) and they will continue through April 7th, which is the Friday before Good Friday.

Lent is a major liturgical season for us as Catholics, and something feels special about Ash Wednesday.

Until next time!

-Victoria the Catholic

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