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Ash Wednesday Masses Begin Season of Lent

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Ash Wednesday Mass will be celebrated in the 96 parishes and mission churches in the Diocese of Raleigh February 22, 2012. 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 through special attention to the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Catholics attend Mass on this day and receive ash on their foreheads as the Priest or minister says, "Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return" or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” 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 (PDF) on the Office of Divine Worship page of the Diocesan website.

On the two weekends following Ash Wednesday, the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion will be celebrated in six different regions of the Diocese. The catechumens will be called by the Bishop or his Delegate to the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter, and the candidates will be called to deeper conversion as they prepare for Full Reception into the Church. To provide for a fuller celebration for those catechumens and candidates whose native language is Spanish, there will be two celebrations of the Combined Rite in Spanish.

While the Rite of Election is a celebration of the Diocesan Church, to be held in the Diocesan Cathedral, because of limits of space at Sacred Heart Cathedral and increasing numbers of catechumens, candidates, godparents, sponsors, families, and members of the faithful, it is necessary to have multiple celebrations of the Rite in the Diocese of Raleigh.

The Rite of Election will be celebrated in the Diocese of Raleigh as follows:

February 26th - 3:00pm
St. Peter, Greenville,
Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Presiding 

St. Anthony of Padua, Southern Pines
Rev. Msgr. David D. Brockman, Presiding

St. Mary, Wilmington (Spanish)
Very Rev. Marcos Leon, V.F., Presiding

March 4th – 4:00pm

St. Thomas More, Chapel Hill
Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, Presiding 

St. Mark, Wilmington
Rev. Msgr. David D. Brockman, V.G., Presiding

St. Mary, Mt. Olive (Spanish)
Very Rev. James F.  Garneau, V.F., Presiding 

Lent is also a penitential season, when all the faithful are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Penance. The Penitential Rite for baptized Candidates preparing for the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist may be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2012.

Bishop Burbidge will celebrate the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Apex. At the Mass, the Bishop will consecrate the Chrism and bless the oils to be used by the Church in the coming year. Representatives of each parish are present to receive the oils on behalf of their community. The Chrism Mass also commemorates Christ’s institution of the Priesthood, as the priests renew their commitment to priestly service of God’s Church.

The 40 days of Lent, which begin on Ash Wednesday, lead to the Easter Triduum, the holiest days of the year, which begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.