Ash Wednesday incoming!

Ash Wednesday incoming!

This time next week it will be Lent. Talk about a quick turn around. It feels like Christmas was only a few weeks ago!

I prepared the following notices for our parish bulletins this weekend. (You can tell I’m happily occupied with work when I consecutively post non-exclusive material to my blog!)

Ash Wednesday obligations

Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence from meat. In Australia all Catholics over 18 and under 60 are obliged to fast. Tradition recommends one full-sized meal in the middle of the day, and two small-sized meals in the morning and the evening, which together don’t equal the large meal. Snacking between meals is not permitted. Of course, health considerations and common sense must define each person’s observance of the fast.

All Catholics aged over 14 are obliged to abstain from meat. Children aren’t obliged to fast or abstain from meat, but parents are asked to ensure they are taught the true meaning of penance.

We are not obliged to attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, nor are we obliged to receive ashes. Still, the reception of ashes is a very popular custom, and an ancient one: at least 1,000 years old.

Who can receive ashes?

Unlike the discipline regarding sacraments (communion, absolution, marriage, etc.), the Church does not regulate who can receive sacramentals.

Non-Catholics are welcome to receive the ashes, which is a sign not only of Christ’s call to conversion, but also our personal response to his call. Even people who aren’t baptised, and people who don’t believe that Jesus is Lord, identify with conversion and self-improvement.

The ashes are also a reminder of our mortality. Again, every person – Christian or not – will die, and even the pagan philosophers insisted on the benefits of pondering death, and dying well.

Who can minister ashes?

Anyone can place the ashes on a person’s head. You are welcome to take some blessed ashes home in an envelope and place the ashes on the foreheads of people who can’t get to an Ash Wednesday liturgy.

Should we keep the ashes on, or wash them off?

There is no right or wrong rule about this. It is a personal decision made in dialogue with the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel on Ash Wednesday, our Lord instructs us:

“Be careful not to parade your good deeds to attract notice … When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face so that no one knows you’re fasting except your Father who sees all.”

Therefore, many people wash the ashes off soon after they receive them.

Other people choose to keep the ashes visible throughout the day, as an exercise of religious freedom, or to witness to their faith. It is certainly a conversation starter! With the Holy Spirit’s help, you might be able to explain Lent to a colleague or friend in an edifying and attractive way.

  • Simon Hogan

    Here are some tips! Maybe if you win big during Lemt share it around! Caulfield tommorrow I like Race 3no9 Race4no17 Race5no7 Race6no 8 Race7no 11 Race8no 4 and 12 Race9no 7 and 9! Race eight is a group one! In Sydney I like Race7no2! All eachway! I hope you get these Fr. Frank! Keep well from Simon the Pieman.

  • Simon Hogan

    Here are some racing tips all eachway at Flemington. Race 2no1 Race3no3 Race5no6 Race6no4 Race8no2 and Race9no3 Happy Punting I kept away from the small group one Black Cavier Lightning!

  • Simon Hogan

    Well Caulfield is racing this week. The big Blue Dimond for the two years old!
    My tips are Race2No1
    Race6 No12
    Race7No12 and 13
    Race8No7 and 9
    Race9No5 and 10
    All eachway on at Caulfield on Saturday! Keep Well from Simon the Pieman.

  • Is this some kind of Catholic website?

    • Did you ever celebrate Our Lady’s Catholic mass?

      • Hi Lourdesman! Welcome!

        In answer to your questions, yes, this is the Catholic blog of a Catholic priest. And yes, I offered three Masses on Ash Wednesday.

        In anticipation of a few unasked questions — and I hope this is not forward or presumptuous:

        • I assent to and teach the dogmas of the Catholic Church, and in no way dissent from the moral teaching of our Lord, his apostles, and his Church.
        • I recognise Pope Francis as the true pope, to whom I owe obedience and filial affection. As does Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Sarah, and many other so-called-but-not-actual “dissidents.”
        • I categorically reject the Maria Divine Mercy “revelations,” which are pernicious and probably diabolical. That’s a judgement on the “revelations,” not its adherents. Many good faithful Catholics are deceived by them, but I am confident that prayer and fasting can liberate them from the snare of the devil.

        I hope these pre-emptive answers don’t come across as snarky. I’m just wary of new-comers who ask out-of-context questions. In the past, this is where the questions lead. Much more a comment on them than it is on you.

        Pax Christi.

  • Well thank you for the nice welcome. I advise you to familiarise yourself with those dogmas because if you think that Francis is the vicar of Christ on earth then you do not have the Catholic faith without which it is impossible to please God. It is of course divine dogma that we must be subject to the Roman Pontiff. This Divine Pontificate is eternal and indefectible

    The Apostles warned us how to know know this divine institution.

  • Have decided to return to original title. thepriestdefenders. In 1969 I was all set to study for the priesthood in Maynooth. Thanks to Our Lady I avoided that awful fate. If I had continued I would be faithless enough to be unable to distinguish between the popes from hell and the popes from heaven.

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