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Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

The First Day of the Season of Lent

“We are entering, to-day, upon a long campaign of the warfare spoken of by the Apostles: forty days of battle, forty days of penance.” Thus far the words of Dom Prosper Guéranger. Ash Wednesday, though very old itself, was instituted sometime after the season of Lent, which in Latin is called Quadragesima, or “fortieth”. The addition of these four days preceding the First Sunday of Lent brought the number of fasting days between now and Easter Sunday to exactly forty, because of the universal custom to avoid fasting on Sundays. Ashes have been a symbol of penance and humility since the Old Testament, and they clearly evoke the phrase from Genesis used repeatedly in the liturgy today: “dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return”—a reminder of man’s mortality since the Fall, and of the penance and mortification to which all are called during this season. The imposition of ashes on this day was once reserved for those doing public penance for grave and especially scandalous sins, but as this practice of public penance decreased, the ashes came to be applied to all the faithful. To this day the Church attaches the words of the Prophet Joel: Now therefore saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God.


Traditional Roman Martyrology for February 14th

AT Rome, on the Flaminian road, in the time of the emperor Claudius, the birthday of blessed Valentine, priest and martyr, who after having cured and instructed many persons, was beaten with clubs and beheaded.

Also, at Rome, the holy martyrs Vitalis, Felicula, and Zeno.

At Teramo, St. Valentine, bishop and martyr, who was scourged, committed to prison, and as he remained unshaken in his faith, was taken out of his dungeon in the dead of night and beheaded by order of Placidus, prefect of the city.

In the same place, the holy martyrs Proculus, Ephebus and Apollonius, who, whilst watching by the body of St. Valentine, were arrested and put to the sword by the command of the ex-consul Leontius.

At Alexandria, the holy martyrs Bassus, Anthony, and Protolicus, who were cast into the sea.

Also, the holy martyrs Cyrion, priest, Bassian, lector, Agatho, exorcist, and Moses, who perished in the flames and took their flight to heaven.

In the same city, the Saints Denis and Ammonius, who were beheaded.

At Ravenna, St. Eleuchadius, bishop and confessor.

In Bithynia, the abbot St. Auxentius.

At Sorrento, St. Anthony, abbot, who, when the monastery of Monte Cassino was devastated by the Lombards, withdrew into a solitude of the neighborhood, where, celebrated for holiness, he passed calmly to his repose in God. His body is daily glorified by many miracles, and particularly by the deliverance of possessed persons.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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