FALL RIVER — Lent, the forty-day season of prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving in preparation for the joyous celebration of Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
Parishes throughout the Fall River Diocese will mark the start of Lent with the traditional rite of distribution of ashes.
Ashes, symbolic of penance, are blessed and distributed on that day as a reminder that Lent is a time for repentance and spiritual renewal. Ashes are used to mark on the forehead of the faithful the Sign of the Cross, with the reminder: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” or “Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
“The Church still reminds us, and the readings from the Liturgy during Lent confirm, that the Lord calls us and invites us during this time to a life of change and conversion,” says Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., in a Lenten Message to Catholics in the Fall River Diocese. “The Scripture readings speak of beginning anew; of fasting, prayer and almsgiving; of conversion of heart; of forgiveness. They speak of the hardness of the human heart, they challenge us to love our enemies, and remind us that we are called to live a holy life.”
The Church calls for days of abstinence and fasting during Lent:
- Abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays during Lent and Good Friday for those aged 14 and older;
- Fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for those aged 18 through 59. Fasting is defined as eating only one full meatless meal. Two other meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one’s needs.
Those who are not obliged to fast or abstain from meat are encouraged to join in those disciplines to the extent that they are able.
Catholics are urged to regard the Lenten season as a serious time for spiritual renewal by intensifying prayer, practicing works of piety, and seeking out opportunities for charity.
Most parishes in the diocese provide additional liturgical services and/or programs as opportunities for spiritual growth during Lent, and in some deaneries -or geographic regions- of the diocese, parishes work together to sponsor multi -day or -evening retreats. Parishioners should check their parish bulletins for listings of such events.
“My prayer and my wish for all of us this Lent is to embrace the spirit of prayer, penance and sacrifice, to recognize our need for continuous conversion, and to pass onto the next generation these same values we received from our parents and grandparents,” says Bishop da Cunha in his message.