Ash Wednesday Begins Season of Lent

ashToday, Ash Wednesday, March 1, will mark the start of the solemn 40-day season of Lent. Parishes throughout the 11-county Diocese of Scranton will distribute ashes as a sign of penance and to remind individuals of Lent’s call to a more complete gospel lifestyle.

At the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, ashes will be distributed during the 6:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 12:10 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Masses. The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, will be the principal celebrant of the 12:10 p.m. Pontifical Mass. CTV: Catholic Television will broadcast the Mass.

Ash Wednesday commemorates the ancient rite of placing the sign of the cross on the forehead with the reminder “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Lent’s invitation to repentance and conversion may also be found in the optional words of this rite: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” These ashes are gathered from the burned branches of palm carried the previous year in the Palm Sunday procession.

The Office for Parish Life is conducting an Ash Wednesday Retreat from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Diocesan Pastoral Center, 330 Wyoming Avenue, Scranton. All are welcome. To register, call the Office at 570-207-2213.

Since, the Church encourages us to make confession a regular part of our spiritual life, especially during the holy season of Lent, parishes are participating in a Lenten initiative called The Light Is On for You, which means that every Monday evening during the Lenten season, beginning on the first Monday of Lent, March 6, and continuing through Monday of the last full week of Lent, April 3, confessions will be heard in every parish from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The Diocesan website contains a variety of resources to help parishes extend the invitation to The Light Is On for You, and to help penitents prepare for and participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. See www.dioceseofscranton.org (Parish Life Office menu tab, then The Light Is On for You). The site also includes a Parish Directory listing parishes by location. Note: In parishes with multiple worship sites, call the parish office to confirm the site where the Monday evening confessions will be heard. Also check the specific parish bulletins or websites for details.

During Lent the Cathedral of Saint Peter will offer several ways in which the faithful can deepen their relationship with Jesus and come to know him in a more intimate way.

On Fridays the Stations of the Cross will be prayed following the 12:10 p.m. Mass and Novena to St. John Neumann. The Stations will air on CTV live on March 3 after the 12:10 p.m. Mass on that day and then on succeeding Fridays at 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

On Sundays, March 5, 12, 19 and 26; April 2 and 9, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will begin at the conclusion of the 5 p.m. Sunday Mass. Evening Prayer and Benediction begin at 6:30 p.m.