Ash Wednesday is finally here, and thus the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday is an old tradition of the church, dating back to the eighth century, in which the faithful receive blessed ashes made from the palms of last year’s Palm Sunday. The ashes remind us of our mortality and call us to repentance. This is clearly demonstrated when the priest says, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shall return” (or some variation of that) when placing the ashes on our forehead. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstaining from meat as Catholics and Christians around the world kick-off Lent. Many think of Lent and wonder, “What should I give up?” but it is also important to add a new spiritual practice as well.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF LENT: PRAYER
The best way to make the most of Lent is through daily prayer. Many Lenten devotional books help you to fall deeper in love with Christ by focusing on his Passion. This spiritual reading will allow you to meditate, read scripture, and pray in new, fruitful ways. If reading isn't your thing, pray the Stations of the Cross either by yourself or at a Stations of the Cross service usually held on Fridays at most Catholic parishes. Another good practice to consider is praying a daily rosary and/or the divine mercy chaplet. The important thing is that you attempt to make this season one of daily prayer.
Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are not immortal and ought to live every day as if it is our last, fervently praying to the Lord for mercy and forgiveness. With Ash Wednesday comes a 46-day period of sacrifice and spiritual growth which culminates in the biggest celebration of the church, Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is not a day of Holy Obligation, but nonetheless you should definitely try your best to make it to Mass. What better way to start the important season of Lent than with Mass?