Hundreds filled Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Raleigh March 1 to begin the 2017 Lenten season with Ash Wednesday Mass. The faithful received ashes in the sign of a cross on their foreheads as a sign of mortality and a symbol of penance and continuing conversion.
Monsignor Michael Shugrue, diocesan administrator, celebrated the Mass with Father Justin Kerber, C.P., pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral.
In his homily, Monsignor Shugrue explained that Ash Wednesday is about repentance through fasting, renewal through praying ,and giving time, talent and treasure to those most in need.
“The most important part of the Lenten journey is taking the first step, after we receive the ashes and the Eucharist today,” Monsignor Shugrue said. “Pope Francis said, ‘Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Jesus.’ Amen.”
On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are asked to fast, with guidelines allowing for one full meal a day. Catholics age 14 and older are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent.