Dear OSJ Family,

I write to you this week from out of the office as I begin a few days of vacation with my family.

Next Wednesday, March 1st, Christians around the world will begin the Holy Season of Lent with our celebration of Ash Wednesday.

Masses, with the distribution of blessed ashes, at OSJ are set for the following times:

-12:05 pm Mass

-7:30 pm Mass

Though it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, Ash Wednesday remains one of the most popular and important days in our Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Indeed, Ash Wednesday begins our time of increased almsgiving, fasting, and prayer. Notably, Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and while it is chiefly observed by Catholics, many other Christian denominations also observes this day of prayer and fasting.

Ash Wednesday, for us, has its roots in the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting where those seeking forgiveness, as a public sign of humility and repentance, donned themselves in sackcloth and covered their faces in ashes. The ashes for our Jewish ancestors, and for us today, symbolize the dust from which God made us. It is a sign of humility of our need for God’s forgiveness and grace in our lives. As the priest or minister applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, they speak the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Alternatively, they may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The ashes used in our Catholic tradition are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s Palm Sunday Mass.

As we enter into our blessed season of Lent, and as we seek to grow in greater faith, hope, and love in this holy time, let us continue to prayer for the needs of the entire world and to support one another with words and gestures of kindness, compassion, and Christian love.

Blessed Lent!

Fr Phil Florio,SJ