Ash Wednesday: Lent Begins

As a child, I attended Catholic school and lived in a relatively Catholic community therefore, Ash Wednesday wasn't really a big deal. Everyone went to Mass during school and ate pizza for dinner.  I was never asked why I had ashes on my forehead. 

Yesterday, I heard that a local public school teacher brings the Catholic children to Mass during their lunch period to receive Ashes. I can image these children returning to school and being asked about them. Here is a great sample dialogue to help them respond in an appropriate manner.

I plan to take Charlie to Mass to receive ashes. Receiving ashes is not like receiving communion. Ashes are considered a sacramental (a symbol) therefore Charlie can have them placed on his forehead like holy water.

I found it interesting that the pastor of our church indicated that people call to find out exactly what time the ashes are being distributed. People have no interest in going to Mass but, want the ashes placed on their forehead. There will even be a hash tag on twitter (#ashtag). It would be great if all of the people who had ashes placed on their heads on Ash Wednesday attended Mass every Sunday. The churches would be busting at the seams! 

While my little guy is too young to do much to celebrate the beginning of Lent, here is a coloring page to help your little ones get involved in this special day. There is so much on the web that you can do with your little ones. Older children can even complete these word activities.

We will be setting up a Lenten prayer corner in our room. It will be a bare grape vine wreath with a cross with a purple ribbon draped over it. Our Magnificat Lenten companion and Bible will be there also. I'm sure our corner will grow as our journey continues but, we'll be taking it one step at a time. I plan to change the wreath to have flowers on it and a while ribbon on the cross with a while candle when Easter comes. 


Abstinence from Meat:
All Catholics who have reached their 14th birthday are bound to abstain entirely from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent including Good Friday.There is no upper age limit for the requirement of abstinence.

FastingAll Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are bound to observe the law of fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This means limiting oneself to a single full mean and two smaller meals and avoiding food between meals. We are encouraged also to voluntarily fast other days during Lent. Sundays and Feast Days are not days of fast and abstinence. (Feast days include St. Joseph, March 19th.) Dispensations from Abstinence and Fasting: We are not to consider ourselves lightly excused from the laws of Fast and Abstinence. However, with a good reason, one may excuse oneself but substitute another penitential practice to compensate.

Easter DutyAll Catholics who have received First Communion are required to receive Communion at least once during the Easter Season which includes the time between Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday. Catholics are also to receive the Sacrament of Penance once a year. If Confession is required before receiving Communion then that would be required during the Easter Season. One must be absolved from all mortal sins before receiving Communion.

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