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Saint of the Day for 14 February: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday: Meaning, Traditions and Beginning of Lent in Christianity


Ash Wednesday


Beginning of Lent


14 February


2004 edition



We pray to You, Lord Jesus, let this ash descend on our heads with the force of hail and awaken us from the torpor of sin. Make these forty days a special occasion to convert our hearts to You, and put You back in the first place of our lives. Grant us to know how to recognize Your passage and to live each moment with the certainty that You walk among us, that You know how to wait for our slow and unsure step; that You know how to see in us what we do not even know how to imagine. In these forty days, put desires in our hearts that throb to the rhythm of Your Word. Mary add what is lacking to our prayer. Amen.

Roman Martyrology

Ash Day, and the beginning of the fasting of the most holy Lent.


The Saint and Mission

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Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a forty-day period preceding Easter in the Christian calendar. This day is of crucial importance for the faithful, representing a moment of internal reflection, repentance and spiritual renewal. The mission intrinsic to Ash Wednesday and the subsequent Lenten period extends far beyond the practice of fasting or abstinence; it is a profound invitation to embark on a journey of personal and collective conversion towards greater conformity to the life and teachings of Christ. The ceremony of the imposition of ashes, with its biblical roots in the symbolism of repentance and mortality, reminds Christians of their human frailty and the need to turn their hearts and minds to God. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return” o “Convert and believe in the Gospel” are words pronounced during the rite that highlight the mission of reflection and reconciliation that characterizes this period. This day and the subsequent Lenten journey invite us to a mission of introspection and renewal that goes far beyond the surface of spiritual life; they call for a profound exploration of one’s actions, thoughts and relationship with God and others. It is a time dedicated to more intense prayer, fasting and almsgiving, practices which, if lived authentically, can transform the heart and mind, realigning them with the values of the Gospel. Furthermore, Ash Wednesday and Lent highlight the community mission of Christians in the world. The call to repentance and conversion is not only an individual path but is also a shared path, which strengthens the mystical body of Christ. Through the shared practice of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, the Christian community unites in solidarity with the less fortunate, reflecting God’s mercy and love for all of his children. Ash Wednesday, therefore, is not just the beginning of a liturgical period; it is a powerful reminder of the mission of continuous conversion that is at the heart of the Christian life. It invites each believer to consider where they are in their spiritual journey, to recognize where conversion and reconciliation are needed, and to recommit to living according to the Gospel. In this sense, Ash Wednesday offers a moment of grace, an opportunity to renew one’s dedication to the Christian mission in the world, bearing witness to the hope, faith and love that define the approaching Easter.

The Saint and Mercy

Ash Wednesday, with its solemn ceremony of imposition of ashes, opens the door to the season of Lent, a period that invites the faithful to a profound interior examination and a renewed commitment to the life of faith. This day marks not only a time of reflection on mortality and penance but also reveals itself as a powerful manifestation of divine mercy. It is an invitation to recognize one’s weaknesses and seek the forgiveness of God, who welcomes every repentant heart with infinite love. Mercy, in the context of Ash Wednesday, manifests itself through the humble recognition that, despite our failures and failures, we are called to return to God with contrite hearts. The words pronounced during the imposition of the ashes, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel”, are a reminder of our human condition and our need for redemption, underlining that God’s mercy is always available for those who approach Him with sincerity. This day invites us to meditate on mercy as a way back to God, promoting acts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as concrete expressions of repentance and openness to the gift of divine grace. Lent, inaugurated by Ash Wednesday, thus becomes a period of grace, during which the faithful are called to live mercy more deeply, both by receiving it in their own lives and by becoming instruments of that mercy for others. Furthermore, Ash Wednesday and the subsequent Lenten journey remind us that mercy also has a community dimension. Through sharing our sufferings and conversion efforts, we grow as a community of faith, supporting each other on our spiritual journey. Mercy becomes the glue that strengthens our bond with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ, inviting us to look beyond ourselves and extend a hand to those in need. Ash Wednesday opens us to the understanding that mercy is at the heart of the Christian message. It invites us to enter a period of silence, reflection and renewal, reminding us that, despite our imperfections, we are called to a loving relationship with God, who is always ready to forgive us and renew us. In this sense, Ash Wednesday is not just a beginning, but a continuous reminder of the mercy that accompanies us throughout the journey of Christian life.


Ash Wednesday is the day on which Lent begins, the period of forty days leading up to Easter Resurrection and in which the Catholic Church invites the faithful to a journey of penance, prayer, and charity in order to arrive converted to the renewal of baptismal promises, which will be accomplished precisely on Easter Sunday…


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