Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D., Bishop of Camden, will be the main celebrant and homilist at Mass for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 12:05 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 642 Market Street, Camden. Bishop Sullivan will also distribute ashes at the Mass that marks the start of Lent.
The season of Lent, which has been observed since the fourth century, begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, and lasts until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday), March 29.
Lent is the primary penitential season in the Church’s liturgical year, reflecting the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and prayer. On Ash Wednesday, ashes are blessed after the homily of the Mass and placed on the forehead as a sign of the penitential character of the season. The ashes come from the burning of palm branches used on Passion (Palm) Sunday of the previous year.
In accord with the penitential character of the season, Catholics aged 18 to 59 are obliged to fast (having only one full meal each day) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is an act of faith, humility and complete dependence on God. On Ash Wednesday, as well as on Fridays during Lent, Catholics aged 14 and older are also obliged to abstain from eating meat. Works of charity, prayer and almsgiving are also encouraged during the Lenten season.
During the Feb. 14 service, Bishop Sullivan also will bless Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Rice Bowls that will be distributed to those in attendance. CRS Rice Bowl is the Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, the official international development and humanitarian relief agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that helps Catholics in the United States live out the Lenten pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in solidarity with our poorest brothers and sisters. Seventy-five percent of CRS Rice Bowl donations help the poor overseas, and twenty-five percent support local hunger and poverty alleviation projects in our diocese. In 2017, about 55 parishes and schools throughout the diocese collected over $110,000 through the program.