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The Meaning of Ash Wednesday and a Word of Encouragement

In preparation of Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent this week.

writing a cross in ashes for ash wednesday

Ash Wednesday is one of the many popular Holy days in the liturgical calendar.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent, as The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) defines it, is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday.


It's a period of preparation to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

These 40 days of Lent are a time to reflect on how we’re doing in our walk with God. During Lent, we can practice disciplines that help grow our spiritual life and recognize sinful areas that we need to confront.


In reflecting on these areas of sin, Lent and Ash Wednesday are also times of repentance. To repent means to turn away from sin and turn toward God. It is a renewal of ourselves and our relationship with God and brings us closer to Him.


On Ash Wednesday, we use ashes on our heads as a visible expression of a need to begin again through repentance and drawing closer to Christ.


The theme of renewal and rebirth also calls us to reflect on Baptism. The waters of Baptism symbolize being Baptized into Christ's death, death to sin and evil, and beginning new life in Christ.


The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. It is a symbol of humility and a reminder of where we come from and where we are going.


As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he says: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


Or the priest may use the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”


Palms and ashes for ash wednesday

The ashes the priest uses are made from the blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s Palm Sunday Mass.


During Mass, ALL are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. Even young babies and children are welcome to receive the ashes.


Regina Angelorum Academy will participate in Mass and receive their ashes all together as a school this Wednesday, March 2nd at 12pm.


This makes receiving ashes a great opportunity for our young students, who don’t receive communion yet, to participate tangibly in the Church and feel involved in the Mass service.


It is important to remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of penitential prayer and fasting. This is a day to encourage quiet activity throughout the house and refrain from celebrations, unnecessary outings, and large or indulgent meals.


On Ash Wednesday, we also encourage our students to reflect on committing to a sacrifice that will bring them closer to Christ during this Lenten season.


Of course, committing to a sacrifice and fasting is a personal experience for our students.


However, our Catholic school makes sure to equip our students with understanding the reasons behind this season’s increased fasting, almsgiving and prayer. We help our students to realize the importance of the Lenten Season by weaving religious education and faith themed teachings into our classical curriculum and daily school life. An offering unique to that of Catholic education.


May God bless the students of Regina Angelorum Academy and our entire school community with a reflective Ash Wednesday and a fruitful Lenten Season.

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