February 6: Ash Wednesday Marks the First Day of Lent

February 03, 2008

Lent will begin on February 6 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 6, 2008
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). Catholics age 14 and over abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent.

Easter will be observed on March 23.

This year, Lent also will mark a period of preparation for a visit from Pope Benedict XVI, just three weeks after Easter. Also, back by popular demand will be The Light is On for You, an initiative to encourage a return to Confession. A billboard, Metro and bus ads are already going up to promote Confession. All Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Washington will be open for confessions every Wednesday in Lent (starting February 13), 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Media Note: A communications staffer will be available to accompany media for close shots of Archbishop Wuerl distributing ashes. Please enter the Cathedral on the left (west) side, for that shot. An audio mult will be available at the west pillar.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
[email protected]