Ash Wednesday Masses to mark start of Lent  

Maine Catholic churches across the diocese will hold Ash Wednesday services next week to begin the season of Lent. Bishop Robert Deeley will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on February 14 at 12:15 p.m. 

Ash Wednesday begins a period of spiritual renewal in preparation for the celebration of the Paschal mystery of Christ, his Passion, death and resurrection. Lent ends on Holy Thursday, March 28. Good Friday is March 29. The Easter Vigil is March 30 and Easter is March 31.  

The ashes Catholics receive on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday are both a reminder of earthly mortality and a call to repentance. The ashes are made by burning the palms distributed the previous year on Palm Sunday. Ashes are blessed by the priest, who then dips his thumb in them and makes the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead, while saying these words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19) or "Repent and believe in the Gospel."  

Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, but Catholics are encouraged to attend Mass to begin their Lenten journey. Mass times are listed here

A special collection taken up in all churches on Ash Wednesday will jointly benefit the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and the Solidarity Fund for Africa. The collection supports pastoral, educational, and construction projects in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  It also supports projects that benefit family life, women, and children in Africa. 

For more information and resources for Lent, click here