WHAT IS ASH WEDNESDAY?
#AshWednesday (this year, February 14) marks the beginning of the holy season of #Lent. By marking our foreheads with ash, we are reminded of our own mortality. No matter how powerful, rich, or influential we may have become, nobody lives forever. At the height of man’s pride, man is reminded that without God he is nothing. Man’s every breath is but an extension of God’s mercy. We are nothing but dust and to dust we shall return (cf. Gen 3:19).
As in the Old Testament, the act of putting ash on one’s head is a public admission of one’s sinfulness, repentance, and need of God’s forgiveness.
DAYS OF FASTING & ABSTINENCE
These are acts of penance offered in reparation for our sins. We are also called to spend on works of mercy (e.g. donate to charity, feeding programs for the poor, etc.) whatever money or resources we save from fasting and abstinence. It is necessary to educate ourselves about these things, so that we may perform them in a genuine spirit of penance.
#FASTING means eating only one (1) full meal and, when necessary, two (2) smaller meals, in one day. These smaller meals, when combined, must not be more than the full meal. Fasting applies to all Catholics aged 14 to 59. It is observed on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and on any other day in which a person wishes to offer God this penance.
#ABSTINENCE means avoiding meat (from pig, chicken, cows, sheep, etc.) Sea food are not prohibited; but generally, in choosing our food we must consider always the genuine spirit of penance. Abstinence applies to all Catholics aged 14 and above. It is observed on ALL FRIDAYS OF LENT, and on other days in which a person wishes to offer this penance.
In both instances, the sick, elderly, the pregnant, laborers (generally, those whose health, medical condition, or nature of work requires full meals or consumption of meat) may be excused. The Church does not intend these people to jeopardize their health; nevertheless, they are called to perform other acts of penance and works of mercy.