Bishop Brown Marks Beginning of Lent with Traditional Ash Wednesday Blessing

Share Article

This historic ceremony marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 day liturgical season which precedes Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

The Most Rev. Tod D. Brown, Bishop of Orange will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at Holy Family Cathedral (566 South Glassell Street, Orange), Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 8:15 a.m. During the Mass, the Bishop will impose ashes on the forehead of the faithful making a cross. This historic ceremony marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 day liturgical season which precedes Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The term, Lent, comes from an Old English word for “spring” and Christians see these days as a time for a change of heart, personal repentance and an openness to the grace of a fresh beginning.

“As Christians reflect on the mission of Jesus Christ in the days leading to the resurrection, it is important to focus on more than abstinence during this holy Lenten period. Many families within our community are struggling as the economy continues to falter and the future seems uncertain. I encourage Catholics to dedicate themselves to acts of goodwill and charity; reach out to those struggling with unemployment, the burdens of debt, and housing insecurity. Catholics must work to carry on the generous and charitable mission of Christ during these difficult times,” said Bishop Brown.

The season of Lent for Catholics around the world is a time for reflection. They ask themselves how their personal lives or values might be changed for the better. When the ashes are put on the foreheads of the faithful on Ash Wednesday, the celebrant can say one of two formulas. He can say, “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.” The ashes thus symbolize how all human life one day comes to an end. But ashes are also used to express repentance and so the celebrant can highlight this by using the other formula: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” These words encourage the recipient to make positive contributions as well as to repent for past sins.

When Bishop Brown marks the foreheads of parishioners during the ceremony with blessed ashes, it also indicates that that person belongs to Jesus Christ, who died on the cross. This is in imitation of the spiritual mark or seal that is put on a Christian in baptism, when he is delivered from slavery to sin and the devil, and made a servant of righteousness and Christ (Rom. 6:3-18).

The ashes used for this come from burning the blessed palm branches used on Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year.

The Marywood Center
2811 E. Villa Real Drive
P. O. Box 14195
Orange, California 92863-1595
Phone: (714) 282-3000
Fax: (714) 282-3029


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Ryan Lilyengren
Diocese of Orange
Email >
Visit website