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Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

Watch today's daily live stream Mass at 12pm (noon) and on demand after its conclusion.

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Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Edward C. Malesic
Lent Ash Wednesday

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Ash Wednesday

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted…
To comfort all who mourn; to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes.
Isaiah 61:1-3
Pope on ash wednesday2

Every Ash Wednesday, many of us receive ashes as a continuation of this prophetic passage from Isaiah, acknowledging that our sincere repentance and return to God leads us to the astounding joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The ashes that we receive at the beginning of Lent point beyond our sins and failings to the everlasting life that we are given as pure grace at Easter. In Christ’s sacrifice, death and shame is inverted, becoming new life and filial adoption through Christ’s resurrection. This is the Paschal Mystery, that through our participation in his death and resurrection, Christ brings us back to life, anoints us with his Holy Spirit, and nourishes us with his Body, replacing our crown of ashes with a crown of righteousness.

The use of ashes as a mark of repentance is an ancient practice, pre-dating Christianity. In the first six centuries of the Christian Church, the sprinkling of ashes on the head of the sinner was an important part of the ritual of public penance and forgiveness that could only happen once in a person’s life. In addition, catechumens were typically marked with ashes as a part of their preparation for the sacraments of initiation, a demonstration that they were prepared to die to their old lives and sinful ways. Other Christians desired to participate in this renunciation of sin, and the practice of sprinkling ashes over the heads of baptized Christians is mentioned as early as the sixth-century Gregorian Sacramentary; however, it was not until 1091 under Pope Urban II that the sprinkling of ashes on the heads of all believers at the beginning of Lent was formally ritualized throughout the Church.

The practices of both sprinkling and tracing a cross on the forehead were known to our forebears in faith. At that time, it was common to sprinkle the ashes over the heads of men, while women were anointed with a cross of ashes on the forehead, most likely because women typically wore a head-covering of some kind during worship. In the United States, the practice of tracing a cross on the forehead migrated to all Catholics; however, in Europe, as the use of head-coverings waned, the practice of sprinkling ashes over the heads of believers migrated to include both men and women.

This pandemic year has been a year of reversals, of the failure of expectations, of trauma, grief, and separation. All of us need an opportunity for metanoia, for turning to God in our mourning so that we might experience anew the joy of the resurrection. This Ash Wednesday, as ashes are sprinkled on our heads in the ancient European manner, let us all acknowledge the primacy of Christ and the overflowing grace of the resurrection as we repent of our sins and failings, believe in the Good News of God’s unending love, and announce that Gospel by our lives.

Jeanne Marie Miles in the director of the Office for Worship

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