Newark Archbishop Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., will celebrate two Ash Wednesday Masses — one in English at noon and one in Spanish at 7:30 p.m. — Feb. 22 at St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral in Newark,
Ash Wednesday is one of the most significant holy days of the Catholic liturgical calendar because it marks the beginning of Lent, a six week-period of prayer, repentance and sacrifice leading up to Easter. During an Ash Wednesday Mass, priests traditionally place ashes — which are the charred remains of palm fronds from the prior year’s Palm Sunday — onto a parishioner’s forehead in the sign of the cross to symbolize that God made everyone out of dust, and all shall return to dust at the end of their lives.
Catholics then wear the ashes for the rest of the day as a sign of penance for their sins.
Following Mass, Catholics are expected to spend Ash Wednesday fasting, repenting and abstaining from meat. Then, over the next several weeks, the faithful commemorate Christ’s 40 days of temptation by praying, repenting, abstaining from meat on Fridays, fasting on Good Friday and making a Lenten sacrifice, which means “giving up” something they find particularly enjoyable for the entirety of Lent.
This period ends Holy Thursday, which falls on April 6 this year.
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