On Ash Wednesday, hundreds of Masses were celebrated throughout the Diocese of Raleigh as Catholics began the 2018 Lenten season. During the Mass, the faithful receive ash on their foreheads in the sign of the Cross, a sign of our mortality and a symbol of penance and continuing conversion.
The Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama celebrated the noon Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral.
This year, Ash Wednesday coincided with Valentine’s Day. In his homily, Bishop Zarama said, "Valentine’s Day is a day in which we try to let people know how much we love them to make them feel important.” He continued, “We sacrifice something to let the other person know how special they are to us. On Ash Wednesday, we, as Catholics, sacrifice and receive ashes as a way to outwardly express our love for God. The two days are perfect together!”
For Catholics, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence from meat.
For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.