Catholic faithful across the world are marking the “Ash Wednesday” today, beginning the lent period.
Lent is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday.
It’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.
This year, Lent begins Ash Wednesday, February 17, and ends on Thursday evening, April 1, followed by the Sacred Triduum through April 3, and Easter Sunday, April 4.
The days of both Fast and Abstinence during Lent are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
The other Fridays of Lent are days of Abstinence. On a day of Fast, only one (1) full meal is permitted. Those between the ages of 18 and 59, if possible in regards to health, are obliged to fast. On a Day of Abstinence, no meat may be eaten. Those who have reached the age of 14 are obliged by the norms concerning abstinence.
The Fridays of the year, outside of Lent, are designated as days of penance, but each individual may substitute for the traditional abstinence from meat some other practice of voluntary self-denial as penance.
But even as Christians mark ash Wednesday the world is still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his Lenten message for 2021, Pope Francis called upon the priests to fully observe Covid-19 safety guidelines when distributing ashes on ash Wednesday adding that it is a period to give hope and care to those affected by the disease.
“To experience lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord’s word to his servant.”
The Pope said the lent period is meant to extensively allow Christians to spread love by giving to the needy.
“Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives,” he stated
“It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness.”
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