(Click here to view a photo album)
SAGINAW — The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption on February 10. He blessed the ashes and sprinkled them with holy water before the faithful came forward to receive the ashes on their foreheads. The ashes came from blessed palms that were distributed last year on Palm Sunday and later burned.
During his homily message, Bishop Cistone encouraged those present to allow God to refashion their hearts, to make their hearts like the heart of Jesus Christ. He said, “We all have areas in our lives that need to be sanctified, and if we are harboring sin in our hearts, it is impossible for our hearts to beat like the heart of Jesus.”
In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season of preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. While Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, all Catholics are encouraged to attend Mass on this day to mark the beginning of the Lenten Season. During the Mass, all are welcome to come forward to receive the ashes as a sign of repentance and mortality. The Sign of the Cross is traced on each person’s forehead and a blessing is said.
The Church emphasizes the penitential nature of Ash Wednesday and Catholics who are between the ages of 18 and 59 are called to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meaning they should eat only one full meal and two smaller meals without eating between meals. Also, all who are 14 and older are called to abstain from eating red meat (beef or pork), poultry and food made from animal fat on those days and all Fridays during Lent.