Ash Wednesday: The Beginning of Lent

This morning we gathered to celebrate the beginning of the Church’s season of Lent. It is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Through prayer, we come closer to God so that we are better able to live justly as Jesus teaches us.

Fasting joins us in solidarity with people experiencing poverty who often have no choice but to go without basic human needs.

Sharing what we have, or ‘almsgiving’, is a sign of our commitment to justice and our thanks for all that He has given us.

The origin of Ash Wednesday, the custom of marking the head with ashes, appears to have originated with Pope Gregory the Great (A. D 509 – 604). The ashes are made by burning the remains of palms blessed on Palm Sunday of the previous year. They are blessed with ancient prayers, sprinkled with holy water, and placed on the forehead with the sign of the cross.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. The reason Lent lasts 40 days is that it is the traditional number of days of judgement and testing in the Bible (Ex 24:18) and relates to the number of days Christ spent fasting in the desert (Mt 4: 1-11). Catholics imitate Christ by spending 40 days in spiritual discipline – prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Although no ashes placed on the head during the Ash Wednesday ceremony, there was still a spiritual call to conversion, penance, fasting and a reminder of our human mortality. 

We also commissioned our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Thirty-two Year 12 students and five staff will now take up this very important ministry in the College.

May our Lenten journey be a time of inner reflection and conversion of heart.  

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