ash wednesday

BEFORE THE CROSS | Ash Wednesday challenges us to take the next step in discipleship

Every year people struggle with this: It's Ash Wednesday, so we fast and put ashes on our foreheads. But the Gospel instructs us to keep our fasting a secret. Some people feel sheepish. Some feel hypocritical. What's going on — how are we supposed to approach the first day of Lent?

Lent is a time for prayer, interior conversion

As Pope Francis described in his 2017 Lenten message, "Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ's victory over death.

"This season urgently calls us to conversion," he wrote. "Christians are asked to return to God 'with all their hearts' (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord."

As we begin Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 1, how do we prepare our hearts for conversion and the path to Easter? Turning toward prayer, through the Scriptures, is one solid suggestion.

Archdiocese leaves the light on for confession during Lent

"Be courageous. Go to confession."

Those were the words Pope Francis used during a general audience last month at the Vatican. He described how the forgiveness experienced from visiting the confessional brings freedom and lightness.

During the season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 5, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is joining the U.S. bishops' campaign, "The Light is ON for You," to provide several opportunities for Catholics here to receive the sacrament of penance during Lent.

Lent comes 'to reawaken us,' pope says at Ash Wednesday Mass

Pope Francis imposed ashes on the head of Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome.

ROME -- Lent is meant to wake up Christians and help them see that God can give them the strength to change their lives and their surroundings, Pope Francis said.

Before receiving and distributing ashes at an evening Mass March 5, Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis gave a homily focused on a line from the prophet Joel: "Rend your hearts, not your garments."

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