February 25: Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent

February 18, 2009

Lent will begin on February 25 this year, with Catholics around the world fasting and receiving ashes on their foreheads in the sign of the cross as a symbol of penance and conversion. In Washington, DC, Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl will celebrate an Ash Wednesday Mass:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
12:05 p.m.
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
1725 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

Lent is the 40-day penitential period before Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The imposition of ashes is an ancient practice found in the Old Testament. Once a public sign of an individual’s repentance, it became part of the Church’s Lenten preparations by the seventh century. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (the Friday before Easter), Catholics between 18 and 59 years old observe a modified fast (guidelines allow one full meal per day). Catholics age 14 and over abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent.

Easter will be observed on April 12.

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Susan Gibbs
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