Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is always observed on the Wednesday that falls seven weeks prior to Easter. This Day of Repentance is a Christian observance which represents the first day of Lent and the start of approximately 6 weeks of fasting and penance.

A solemn reminder of our sinfulness and mortality, Ash Wednesday calls us to repentance. We are marked with the sign of the Cross with Ashes on our foreheads as a reminder of our own sinfulness and need for repentance.

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

Fasting and Abstinence
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 18 and under the age of 60 are required to fast, which means that we can eat only one complete meal and two smaller meals (not to equal a regular meal) with no food in between. Catholics over the age of 14 are also required to abstain from eating any meat on Ash Wednesday. (This fast is also prescribed for Good Friday.)

Fasting and abstinence is not simply a visual form of penance, it is also a call for us to focus on prayer and our spiritual lives. As Lent begins, we are encouraged to set out specific spiritual goals we would like to reach before Easter and decide how we will pursue them. Other suggestions for being more spiritually disciplined could include setting aside more time each day for prayer and/or reading scripture, attending Mass more often and to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often.