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Season of Lent Begins with Ash Wednesday Masses

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Ash Wednesday Mass will be celebrated in the 95 parishes and mission churches in the Diocese of Raleigh March 9. The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh at 12:10 p.m.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season of preparation for the resurrection of Jesus. Catholics attend Mass on this day and receive ash on their foreheads as the Priest or minister say, "Remember, man, though art dust and to dust thou shall return." The ash reminds us of our mortality and calls us to repentance. Leaving the ash on the forehead is a sign of humility. Catholics are also called on to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday. Catholics who are over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 are required to fast. (See Norms and Guidelines for the Season of Lent, the Easter Triduum and the Season of Easter.)

In his column to the Catholic faithful in the March issue of NC Catholics, Bishop Burbidge wrote that Lent is a powerful reminder that “we are a people on a pilgrimage...aware that we do not travel alone.”  Pointing to the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, Bishop Burbidge said, “Allow your prayer to include periods of silence so you can hear the Lord gently speaking to your heart.”

During Lent, Catholics in the Diocese have the opportunity to make a pilgrimage with the Bishop to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The date is April 2. Presently, more than 1,000 people have registered for the spiritual journey. Approximately 400 will depart from parishes throughout the Diocese the afternoon of April 1, staying the night at a Washington area hotel. Others will be departing by bus or their own vehicle early morning on April 2. The day will culminate with a Mass in the Upper Church of the Basilica in the afternoon, before the faithful return home.

Registration is still open. For those wishing to attend or those who plan to travel on their own to the pilgrimage, the Diocese is requesting they inform the Diocese in order to help with planning purposes. They are asked to email Ms. Holly Stringer at stringer@raldioc.org. Ms. Stringer can also answer any questions regarding the pilgrimage. Complete information on the pilgrimage, including schedule and registration form, is available on the website, accessed through the Diocesan Pilgrimage button on the left side of the home page. On the web page, you will also find a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) and the link to information on the Basilica of the National Shrine.