Catholics throughout the Diocese of Raleigh attended Ash Wednesday Masses, marking the beginning of the Lenten season. During the Mass, the faithful receive ash on their foreheads in the sign of the cross, a symbol of penance and continuing conversion.
The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh, attended by an overflow gathering. Among those in attendance was the lacrosse team from Cardinal Gibbons High School, currently on winter break.
“Beginning today,” Bishop Burbidge told the faithful in his homily, “with renewed fervor, zeal and intensity, we respond to the Lord’s invitations to turn away from sin; to seek God’s mercy; and to unite ourselves ever closer Our Lord Jesus, especially as we take up our cross and follow Him. Our response to these invitations leads us to joy as we find new life in Christ and worthily prepare ourselves for the celebration of Holy Week and the renewal of our baptismal promises at Easter.”
Stressing the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, “disciplines that allow us to radically change our lifestyle,” the Bishop reassured those in attendance that Lent is not “gloomy” but “a joyful season and a grace-filled moment for us to turn away from sin and to discover new life in Christ.”
The ash distributed at this Mass serves as a visible reminder of our mortality. As the ash is placed on the forehead, the priest or minister says, “Thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return” or, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Leaving the ash on the forehead is a sign of humility. On Ash Wednesday (and Good Friday) Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are asked to fast, with guidelines allowing for one full meal a day. Catholics age 18 and older are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent. See Norms and Guidelines for the Season of Lent (PDF) on the Office of Divine Worship page of the Diocesan website.
View photo gallery
Watch Bishop Burbidge’s homily
Read Bishop Burbidge’s homily
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge receiving ashes from Fr. Daniel Oschwald, Rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral during noon Mass. (Click image to view larger.)
Above: Father Salvatore Busichio, Vice Rector, placing ashes on a member of Cathedral parish. (Click image to view larger.)
Above: Part of the standing-room only gathering that flowed out the Cathedral doors during Ash Wednesday Mass. (Click image to view larger.)