Ash Wednesday

February 26, 2020

JL 2:12-18/2 COR 5:20—6:2/MT 6:1-6, 16-18

Today is Ash Wednesday and Christians all around the world will begin the forty day period of penance known as Lent.  If you grew up Catholic (and even if you didn’t) you have some awareness of what these days entail; ashes applied on Ash Wednesday, fasting and abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstinence from meat as well on each Friday during Lent and doing charitable works.   

Lent is period of preparation and fasting which likely has been observed before the Easter since apostolic times, though the practice was not formalized until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. In the beginning it was a time of preparation of candidates for baptism and a time of penance for sinners with strict fasting rules which sometime allowed only one meal in the evening, and abstinence of meat, fish and eggs. Today, as we know, these rules are not as strict but we are still called to practice penance with ardent prayer and fasting. 

The two-fold theme mentioned above is very much the practice in Catholic parishes today. Lent is a period of preparation for catechumens who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil and other candidates receiving the sacrament of confirmation and Holy Communion; and a time of penance for all the faithful. These forty days, which do not include Sundays during Lent, are given as a favorable time to us to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving or charitable works, which are the key elements of our preparation for the celebration of Easter. 

This year in Campus ministry we are inviting people to practice those elements of Lent in a more tangible way by participating in the Rice Bowl initiative “For Lent, For Life”, an opportunity for all of us to enter into solidarity with those who suffer hunger in the world (  As we start this Lent and you intensify your prayer life, I invite you, whether you are a student, faculty, staff or alumni, to consider this opportunity to live Lent in a deeper way, opening our hearts to those in need, recognizing the suffering of Christ in our midst.


Fr. Larry Blake
Director, Center for Campus Ministry