|For Release :
February 16, 2006
Ash Wednesday - The Start of the Lenten Season
For Roman Catholics around the world, the Season of Lent - a time of preparation for the joyous celebration of Easter - begins with Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2006. The six-week period of Lent will last until Holy Thursday, April 13, the start of the Easter celebration. The parishes of the Archdiocese of Newark will mark the beginning of Lent with the traditional rite of distribution of ashes.
Ash Wednesday is one of the days that draws the faithful to their local church. On Ash Wednesday the baptismal gesture of signing the forehead is copied, but with ashes, rather than oil. The Sign of the Cross in ashes highlights the two themes of the Lenten season: the ash marks it as a penitential season, and the Sign of the Cross marks it as a season of contemplating baptism.
Ashes will be distributed at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge St., Newark on Wednesday, March 1, 2006 during the 12 noon Mass and the 7 p.m. Spanish Mass.
Catholics are asked to regard the Lenten season as a serious time for spiritual renewal. The Church also recommends that Catholics use fasting and abstinence as physical means to spiritual discernment. On a day of fast, only one full meal is permitted for Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 years of age. On a day of abstinence, Catholics who have reached 14 years of age may not eat meat.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both fast and abstinence; other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. Fridays of the year outside of Lent are designated as days of penance. Instead of abstaining from meat, individuals are encouraged to perform some other practice of voluntary self-denial as penance during the rest of the year.
The Archdiocese of Newark invites all Catholics to utilize this time of prayer and fasting to prepare themselves for a joyful renewal of their baptismal promises during the upcoming Easter season.