Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season for Catholics worldwide. Lent is a very sacred time of the year, as it marks the 40-day fasting period before Easter in commemoration of the 40 days our Lord spent fasting in the desert in penance and silent prayer before beginning His public ministry.
This morning, our students received their ashes at Holy Mass. The practice of receiving ashes on one’s forehead was initially reserved for public penitents, though the Church later expanded this practice to all faithful to remind us of our mortality, to invite us to humble ourselves before God, and to reflect on the evil brought into the world through our own sins. During the distribution of the ashes, a cross is made on the foreheads of the faithful while the priest says “Remember, Man, that you are dust, and into dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).
After Mass today, students in Pre-K 4 expressed a lot of excitement to be a part of the Ash Wednesday liturgy. One student who recently received the Sacrament of Baptism was extremely excited about the blessing she had received, saying that her ashes “felt like God”!
In addition to prayer and fasting, another pillar of Lenten practice is almsgiving. This year, our students are participating in Catholic Relief Services' (CRS) Rice Bowl program. Students receive a simple cardboard box that they can place dollars or coins in. At the end of Lent, the “bowls” will be collected and given back to CRS to help them prevent hunger and poverty around the world.
We are humbled to see the faith and love our students have for Christ this first day of Lent, and we invite all to keep our students in your daily prayers especially for the remainder of this liturgical season.
Thus saith the Lord: Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. (Joel 2:12-13)