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Lent Begins with Two Ash Wednesday Services Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Christ the King Church invites you to enter into a Holy Lent beginning Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2024. We will have two Ash Wednesday services, one at 12PM and one at 6PM. Both services will include Communion and the Imposition of Ashes.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent: a time of repentance, fasting, and prayer, in preparation for the great feast of the resurrection. Because it is the beginning of a penitential season, there will be no music in either service. The services will last about an hour.

The season of Lent began in the early days of the Church as a time of preparation for those seeking to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. The forty days refer to our Lord’s time of fasting in the wilderness; and since Sundays are never fast days, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten Fast.

Throughout the Old Testament, ashes are used as a sign of sorrow and repentance, and Christians have traditionally used ashes to indicate sorrow for our own sin, and as a reminder that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Like Adam and Eve, we have disobeyed and rebelled against God, and are under the same judgment, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

But as we are marked with ashes in the same manner that we were signed with the Cross in Baptism, we are also reminded of the life we share in Jesus Christ, the second Adam (Romans 5:17, 6:4). It is in this sure hope that we begin the journey of these forty days, that by hearing and answering our Savior’s call to repent, we may enter fully into the joyful celebration of his resurrection.

The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are typically made by burning the blessed palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. After Palm Sunday, the palms are collected, stored, and later burned to create the ashes. The ashes are then blessed by a priest during the Ash Wednesday service

Some people may wonder why the public nature of the sign of the cross on our foreheads made with ashes does not contradict the appointed Gospel reading for the day, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. In this passage, Jesus warns against performing religious acts for the sake of show, seeking the approval of others, or boasting about one’s spiritual practices. However, the imposition of ashes on the forehead is to be a humble and visible sign of our desire for repentance and renewal. Wearing ashes in public can also be a witness to others, inviting them to reflect on their own need for repentance and spiritual growth.

While the Gospel passage for Ash Wednesday encourages private prayer and fasting, it does not forbid public displays of faith or repentance. In fact, throughout the Christian tradition, believers have often expressed their faith publicly through acts of charity, witness, and worship. As long as our public displays of faith are done in a humble and sincere manner, they can be a meaningful way to experience the love and grace of God and share them with others.