Cardinal will celebrate two Ash Wednesday Masses at Pro-Cathedral

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., archbishop of Newark, will celebrate two Masses on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, at St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral in Newark. A Mass in English is at noon and a Mass in Spanish is at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome.

Ash Wednesday is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. It is significant because it marks the beginning of Lent, the six weeks or 40 days (excluding Sundays) of prayer and repentance leading to Easter. The number 40 signifies the 40 days Jesus was in the desert prior to starting his teaching ministry.

On Ash Wednesday, blessed ashes are placed on each person’s forehead in the shape of a cross to symbolize mortality and penance for their sins. The ashes are obtained from burned palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. During Mass, as the priest applies the ashes, he says, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

“We rend our hearts this day in preparation for all the days when our hearts have been closed to the sufferings of our sisters and brothers,” Cardinal Tobin said in his Ash Wednesday Mass homily last year. “Because God has mercy on us, now is the day of salvation. We know that our Father sees what happens, so our prayer and fast acknowledging Him will be fruitful. And we know by rending our hearts, we are returning to the Lord.”

Throughout Lent, Catholics pray, fast and repent to deepen their faith. During this period, Catholics also abstain from meat on Fridays, fast on Good Friday and make a Lenten sacrifice to represent self-discipline and reliance on God’s grace.

Lent ends on Holy Thursday, March 28, three days before Easter Sunday.

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