Your Ash Wednesday Mass and Sermon notes

Today is NOT a holy day of obligation.

That said, many people try to go to Mass on Ash Wednesday.  Many, however, cannot.

Therefore, let us know about your good experiences of Holy Mass and the good points in the sermon, if there was on.

I wrote “good”.  Let’s make this positive and edifying for the benefit of those who had to work or who were shut in or otherwise not able to go to Mass.

That said: Anyone in the area of Madison, WI, there will be Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Bishop O’Connor Center this evening at 6 PM.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mschu528 says:

    It’s a few hours away yet, but Bp Morlino’s Ash Wednesday TLM will certainly qualify as a good point.

  2. BillG says:

    In the small town of New Haven, MO, the pastor normally offers a weekly Latin Mass in the EF on Wednesdays at 7:30am which my wife and I regularly attend. On Ash Wednesday, however, he fills the time slot with a Mass according to the OF. So, this morning we attended this OF Mass. It is noteworthy, and “good news”, not because it is the OF instead of the EF, but because Father used Latin from Qui pridie… to the end of the Consecration. He also gives the final blessing in Latin. He used EP#3 instead of EP#2. And the overall impression is a sacred one, diminished only by the reception of Communion standing and in the hand – the communion rail is long gone. If all OF Masses were like this one, we would have an increased belief in the Real Presence.
    (Incidentally, on the rare occasions when I have attended a Sunday Mass there, I have only heard EP#1.)

  3. liturmatt says:

    My pastor today talked about the speed of our daily lives and how Lent calls us to slow down and reflect. He further tied into the Gospel about how we should not let our left hand know what our right is doing.

  4. Rob in Maine says:

    Our Chapel priest is very jovial, but that said he stressed going to confession, changing out hearts and to remember at the end of Lent is the Cross and the joy of the Ressurection!

  5. MattW says:

    Hit the noon Mass at the downtown parish in Akron, OH. Father called a spade a spade: fornication–sin, living together and not married–sin; greed–sin; lying and cheating–sins. He hit all the biggies and some of the not-so-biggies. But he ended by observing God gives us the opportunity to reconcile with Him through His Son by means of the Sacraments, esp Confession. It was good to hear.
    By the way, the every parish in the Diocese of Cleveland will have Confessions next Wednesday (March 12) from 5-8 PM.
    On your blog you linked to Fr. Valencheck’s take on this opportunity last year

  6. pinoytraddie says:

    All I can remember is that My Parish Priest expounded on the First Reading(Ordinary Form)and that All we need to do is go Back to God,who gave us life(although short). I was the only one who Knelt for the Imposition of the Ashes and I Gave the responded in Latin,ala J.R Toliken to protest the FFI Persecutions. For this,Deo Gratias et Mariae!

  7. Joseph-Mary says:

    Father also promoted the 40 DAYS FOR LIFE! There were many college students in attendance too.

  8. MaterDei says:

    This afternoon, Father stressed the reality that we will die, and how we should live everyday like it is our last. The ashes we wear are not for show, they are a reminder of our mortality.

  9. LarryW2LJ says:

    Father pointed out that our ashes are a mark upon us with two meanings:

    1) They are like the “A” worn in the Scarlet Letter – a reminder of our sinful nature and a call for our repentance.
    2) They are also like a brand. We belong to the Shepherd and this is our brand mark, we are his sheep and we belong to Him.

    I enjoyed his sermon. Not many people at the 6:30 AM Mass that I attended before work. Maybe about 30 or so.

  10. PhilipNeri says:

    If your Lenten pilgrimage is going to produce excellent spiritual fruit you cannot spend these forty days wallowing in sorrow, self-pity, and mortal deprivation. We deny ourselves always if we would grow in holiness, but this isn’t the kind of denial that looks like the public posturing of the Pharisees. Our Lenten denial is the self-emptying of Christ, that is, our best work at doing what Jesus did on the cross. Lenten denial is about making our gratuitous lives sacrificial. We sacrifice when we give something up and give it back to God.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  11. JKnott says:

    Father emphasized our role in carrying on our daily penance after the Church gets us started on Ash Wednesday and Fridays.
    It was a NO Mass but all the ashes were given out kneeling at the altar rail. So nice!!!
    Our Basilica has one EF Mass on Sundays. The rest are NO.

  12. The only EF Mass available to me being at 7:30 pm tonight, I attended instead a vernacular OF morning Mass. In lieu of any hymns, the introit, offertory, and communion antiphons with their psalm verses from the Graduale Romanum were recited–with practically the whole congregation of about 30 seemingly joining–in the form of the Simple English Propers. No extemporaneous word was interpolated anywhere by either priest or layman, no sermon was given, and no exchange of greetings among the people at the Sign of Peace was invited (the Agnus Dei beginning immediately after the priest’s Peace). Though I usually hear EP I or EP III at OF Masses, EP II was used instead–perhaps for its brevity due to the time required for the blessings with ashes; it was recited in an audible but quiet voice that seemed to provide at least a hint of the unobtrusiveness (“that the people may pray”) afforded by silent ad orientem Latin. A kneeler was provided for those who wished to receive on the tongue (over a paten) while kneeling (only one kind, so no EMHC was needed). Though I haven’t attended an OF Sunday Mass in many years, this OF daily Mass offered nothing to criticize. (Indeed, perhaps because there are several fine young EF celebrants in nearby parishes, none of the EF daily Masses I regularly attend exhibit any of the objectionable aspects that others sometimes mention.)

  13. That is, none of the OF daily Masses I regularly attend exhibit any of the objectionable aspects that others sometimes mention.

  14. filioque says:

    We had an OF with dreary ditties, but a short and meaty sermon hitting all the right notes for Lent: a time to examine ourselves for ways to improve our relationships with God, our neighbors, and ourselves. This might involve giving up something, but it will certainly involve prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I wish the encouragement to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation had been less optional, but at least it was there. We are on a journey and we must look to Jesus Christ as our example and source of your strength. A good start.

  15. mamajen says:

    We didn’t have a full mass, but there was a good homily. Father talked about the symbolism of ashes, how ashes were mentioned in the bible, and some other Church history. He noted that in the past sinners had to wear sackcloth and ashes, then stand out in public where everyone could see. This could go on for quite some time before they were absolved from their sins and allowed to receive communion again. He said we are very fortunate now to so easily be able to go to confession and receive absolution.

  16. Priam1184 says:

    Some of the hymns (Entrance Antiphon, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei) will be sung in Latin chant throughout Lent. Deo gratias! And this is why I say to all of those who are constantly in terror of Pope Francis and of the ‘liberals’ taking over the Church again: the momentum is not with them; things may not be perfect but Communion rails are being put into churches and kneelers are no longer being ripped out. The Liturgy is improving, not nearly fast enough especially considering the darkness of the times, but it is happening. And it is undoubtedly largely because of what Pope Benedict XVI did with Summorum Pontificum.

    Father’s homily could be summarized in one of Father Z’s favorite phrases: GO TO CONFESSION.

  17. APX says:

    God shows mercy to those who are penitent. Those who are not penitent should not expect God’s mercy. Don’t tell people what you are doing for Lent, and don’t be gloomy throughout Lent. Just because it’s a penitential season doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be joyful.

  18. wmeyer says:

    We had a really good turnout for the 6:00 AM Mass today. Usually, the 6:00 Lenten Mass is what the pastor calls his “faithful two dozen”, but I would estimate this morning at 300+.

    Now if only I could persuade the pastor we should have a 6:00 AM Mass on weekdays year-round.

  19. After missing my alarm to make the 6:30AM EF Mass, I went to the OF at my Kids’ school where my oldest read the first reading.

    Father during his Homily had some VERY good points:
    -The ashes are a sign of our sin – they tell the world that we are in need of a savior.
    -If we left Mass after we got the ashes that is like leaving the doctor’s office after getting a grim diagnosis, if we don’t stay for the Eucharist we are leaving without a cure ( as a side note my mother was there and she said that is what stopped her from leaving after the ashes (as she had to get to work))
    -Lent is not a time to boast or bemoan our sufferings/mortification / penance – if we compare and complain we are not really practicing penance

    Those are the good points. In Lenten charity I’ll leave it at that.

  20. JohnNYC says:

    I was blessed to make TWO Traditional Latin Masses today in Rome for Ash Wednesday: the first at 7am inside St. Peters Basilica at the Altar of St. Wenceslas, king and patron saint of Bohemia. We set up everything at our altar and then went over to the nearby Altar of St. Basil where Monsignore Agostini blessed and distributed ashes before celebrating his Mass at that altar. Then we went back to our altar for a wonderfully reverent Ash Wednesday Mass!
    Then, this evening at 6:30pm, Archbishop François Bacqué, Apostolic Nuncio and Titular Archbishop of Gradisca, celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass, preceded by the blessing and imposition of ashes, at the Parish of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) in Rome, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. It was heavenly. I took video with my iPhone tied around my neck and am trying to download it to YouTube but it is slow going at 90 minutes and almost 15 GB . If I succeed I will post the YouTube link here on this thread on Fr. Z’s site. Best regards from Rome to all ! –John

  21. Incaelo says:

    JohnNYC: That’s good to hear about Archbishop Bacqué. He was the previous Papal Nuncio to the Netherlands, and I attended the EF Mass he attended (though not celebrated) in Amsterdam, several years ago. That was the first time in decades that a bishop in the Netherlands was present at an EF Mass. Several more have followed since.

    That as an aside.

    At the OF Mass I attended, I was pleasantly srprised to see our bishop celebrating. Although I attend Mass at the cathedral, we rarely see him as he heads a rather large diocese and is often in other parts of his see. After Mass we sang the Attende Domine, which always helps me realise what Lent means.

  22. At a noon O.F. Mass, Father observed that our ashes, not only on our heads, should also be on our souls.

  23. RafqasRoad says:

    At the Church over the River last night (7:00PM Mass – remember, it’s just after 10:00AM Thu Morning here in Australia), Fr. D. and Deacon P offered the mass. Though we do not have EF or AO here, the NO was beautifuly offered. Deacon P delivered the sermon; Excellent!! he is a prison chaplain for our local jail and spoke of so many good things; that this is a time of spiritual preparedness, decrying greed both re what we take into our bodies in a society that is ramming ‘more, more’ at us in which restraint and abstenance are anathema. He called us to take up Christ’s call to fast and pray taken from the OT and Gospel readings, plus opportunity for repentance. He made a very important observation that the hardest thing he has ever had to do as part of his prison chaplaincy has been to minister to priests in jail. He revealed that at the heart of any escalating issue that may eventually land a priest in jail is lack of prayer. At its core, lack of regular, serious prayer is at the root of the rot (my paraphrase) and that one of the most dangerous things to the church are priests who do not pray. He stressed the essential vital nature of praying – daily, serious prayer and reading the Word of God; studying as a starting point at any rate the Bible readings set out for Sundays on our own time (and daily scriptural study/prayer, even if only for five or ten minutes to start with – calling folk to this as key to commencement of a healthy, sanctifying relashionship with Christ – turning this lent from the pleasure seeking to giving this time to growing in Christ through prayer and study of His word/Church writings (think catechism etc.) – from a lack of daily, serious prayer everything else that is harmful to Holy Mother Church eventually stems. It may not be the TLM, but this mass was solemn, reverent and Christ-focused; a spoken mass with no hymns but this did not detract from its goodness. Folk were quiet prior (with the sound of not a few rosary beads clickety-clacking) and quiet afterwards (the chatters at the church over the river step outside onto the porch) – and I can receive on the tongue whilst kneeling, which is a deep good – even the occasional EMHC at the church up the street (where there was no Ash Wednesday service this year due to priest shortage issues typical for country parishes that are spread out) gives on the tongue efficiently, professionally and with ‘no touch’ (though poor Fr. P risks losing a finger one of these days :-) )

    There was no confession, but we have two regular times every Sat, one in the morning and one in the evening. The morning confession is always well attended and whoever is in the booth stays the whole hour. Both Fr. D. and Fr. P. are good confessors.

    Pray for Fr. D who is a young priest newly minted and needs all the prayers he can get for what is an exhausting burden of work – is it any wonder Holy Orders are a sacrament – the lads couldn’t do it without infused special graces!! Please also pray for the amazing Fr. R who has prostate cancer and other health issues at 70, who when he runs Adoration before the blessed Sacrament ‘cantors’ in latin at its conclusion – fantastic preacher, fantastic cantor, fantastic theologian and godly minded man, please also pray for Fr P who is also around 70 and has a ridiculous workload on his plate.

    And pray for me as I make plans to have an appointment with him at the church office in coming weeks to see what aid I can be in helping do stuff e.g. lay-lead Marion group for prayer, extra rosaries and talks on Mary, plus the possibility of starting a regular CDM in either the church up the street or the church over the river.

    Oh, and I had a house blessing by Fr. D on Tuesday Afternoon – it was from the ‘new blessings book’ (he doesn’t have the other one) but I perceived God’s presence and blessing/habitation of our home tangibly in a way that wasn’t mere emotional rush.

    its a good NO parish. Even when we have our resident guitarists from time to time the preaching is always what we used to call in SDA circles ‘straight truth’., oh, and since I’ve been paying attention, both form 1, 3 and 4 of the (is it Eucharistic prayer?) have been utilized – remember, have b een only Catholic for a short time).

    Happy Ash Wednesday and Lent to everyone!!

  24. PA mom says:

    Our dear priest came to our Moms group which usually meets Wednesdays.

    He had a reading, then offered ashes to us and our children. It was truly wonderful, as it is quite difficult with small children to fit in Mass around school and preschool drop offs and pick ups, meals, naps, etc. He didn’t say much to the group at large, but demonstrated such consideration for us by his act, I am still smiling.

  25. Lynn Diane says:

    The priest who celebrated the Mass I attended is also the diocesan exorcist. He told us not to wipe away the ashes after Mass but to bear the cross of ashes on our foreheads out into the world so all could see and be reminded of the Holy Cross and Christianity.

  26. Suzanne Carl says:

    Mass at 8 this morning, and my #ashtag stayed strong and dark all day as I taught at the local state university. I even had some of the students sharing Mass times available after class! But best of all, there was a priest, I don’t know who, offering ashes for students at a bus stop in Elmwood park between the North and South Campuses. Pretty cool. I’ll bet he was invited by the FOCUS group on campus.

  27. Mike says:

    Although it happened in a very modern, distracting parish, we sang the Sanctus, Mysterium Fidei, and Angus Dei in Latin. Whether this will be for all of Lent, I don’t know, but it was a pleasant surprise all the same. Also, a good number of communicants received the Blessed Sacrament on their tongues, and the man altar serving was very reverent.

  28. Iacobus M says:

    We attended Mass in a small country church. Father, an elderly Capuchin, gave a short, economical and on-target explanation of Ash Wednesday’s role as an expression of the Catholic Sacramental Principle. I took notes (really): the purpose of self-denial is to “purify our sense of purpose and create openness to interior conversion”; “visible signs are important as a witness to spiritual happenings in our lives”; “God is not a matter merely for the intellect, but for the heart as well”; “we use our bodies to attract our minds attention”. Good stuff.
    -Iacobus M

  29. Lepidus says:

    Traveling this week on business north of the border. Found a small parish downtown of the big city where I’m staying. It seems to be primarily (and I’m guessing here) a Vietnamese parish. (N.O., with some of the stuff you might expect , but Father emphasized “good”). In any case, the parish had one Mass – at noon. It was FULL – and I mean good-thing-the-fire-marshal-wasn’t-around full. I would estimate that the church itself would hold around 170 people. I would also estimate that there were about another 100 standing down the sides and in the (rather small) vestibule. The traffic outside seemed a bit noisy and my feet were getting chilly…that’s when I realized the doors were open to relieve some of the pressure in the back. About 80% were ethnic people, so I don’t know if that was it or what, but I haven’t seen a packed house like that for anything…not to mention a “non” holy day.

  30. Jack in NH says:

    I attended an AM OF Mass in a neighboring town, as we don’t have a local Mass until the evening (not EF, either).
    The pastor suggested that we (individually) try to revive the Angelus as a penitential rite during Lent; sounds like a plan to me.

  31. Lepidus says:

    Oh – I neglected to mention one other thing about that little parish: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return”. Haven’t heard that version in ages.

  32. timfout says:

    We had an absolutely wonderful Extraordinary Form Ash Wednesday Mass. The Mass was very beautifully sung by our pastor. The choir sang Johann Michael Haydn’s Missa Tempore Quadragesimae. Magnificent! In the sermon, Father noted that if we are wearing our ashes as a sign to others that we are religious, we should WIPE THEM OFF. No Lenten practice, he noted, should be done out of human respect. The ashes must signify our interior disposition to remove the ugliness of sin from our lives. He referred to the small altar behind the pulpit dedicated to the Holy Face with the image. He said that we should look at the Holy Face often and note how our sins have disfigured Our Lord’s face.

  33. Sonshine135 says:

    My O.F. Mass was very well attended this evening. out of 2000 families, I would guess that almost 700 were there tonight, and Father mentioned that the other 4 Masses held also had brisk business today. AMEN! Over the years, I have witnessed great growth in the number of Catholics at Ash Wednesday. Isn’t it great? What a blessing it is to realize we are all sinners and can’t get by without our Lord’s help.

    Father’s homily was on the full circle created by the ashes from last year’s palms. He mentioned our following of Jesus is very much like those first followers where the palms being laid down for his glory an honor, soon fell away to apathy and calls for his crucifixion. Likewise, we strive to follow Jesus and often fall away, rendering our palms (our promises) to ashes (our guilt). I thought that to be a unique view. Out of the ashes comes rebirth, resurrection, and new life.

  34. Tim says:

    8 am Mass, 100 congregants, great hymns on the new pipe organ, a Georgetown Jesuit reminded us that “God is the only audience that matters” and then imposed ashes with the “remember you are dust” formula … I haven’t heard that for years in my home parish!

  35. Hans says:

    On Ash Wednesday we usually have a full house in the evening, and this year was no exception: full pews and no standing room to speak of in back. A large fraction probably won’t see the inside of a church until next Ash Wednesday. So they were my primary audience. I pointed out that getting ashes on our foreheads is a strange thing to do — it only makes sense if we know we are sinners (including among others not coming to Mass on Sundays), and our hearts are responding to God’s call to return to him, that our hearts wouldn’t be happy until we responded that call. That Lent is intended just for that purpose of turning away from sin and back to God.

  36. bookworm says:

    I did not receive ashes at Mass, but at a short prayer service offered in a somewhat cramped hearing room at the Illinois State Capitol. I discovered several years ago that a priest or deacon does this every year on Ash Wednesday for the benefit of the many Catholic legislators, staff, lobbyists, etc. who are usually in session that day; but I did not take advantage of it myself until yesterday when a co-worker invited me and several other people from my office to go. The priest said he was not doing an “ash-and-dash” but would include a Scripture reading (from I Corinthians: “We implore you… be reconciled to God”) and a brief homily about the ashes being a sign that God uses the “nitty gritty” of life, including many things that cause pain, to touch us.
    As an aside, before he began his prayer service, the priest expressed some mild half-joking trepidation about all the “people who like guns” who were in the building (it was an annual lobby day for Illinois gun owners — the first since concealed carry finally became legal, though none of them were allowed to actually bring their guns because carrying is not allowed in State buildings). I can only wonder what he’d think if he read this blog….

  37. Bea says:

    Whereas we ordinarily have 3 daily Masses, today there were 6 SIX!
    ALL packed, some not able to park in the parking lot.
    I didn’t know we had so many parishioners.
    On Sundays we have 6 Masses and the parking lot is rarely half full for any of them.
    Go figure.
    Most people think its a holy day of obligation. Maybe its a good thing they do, at least they’re there.

  38. JonPatrick says:

    We attended a 6:30 PM EF Missa Cantata at the Basilica. Not a huge number of people there, probably because the parish had 3 other masses already that day. Father had a couple of interesting themes in the homily. Just as we give up food for Lent, it is just as important to fast spiritually, to eliminate spiritual junk food (e.g. TV) to make more room for God. He also used the parable of the fig tree – the owner wants to cut the tree down as it doesn’t bear fruit but the gardener suggests pruning and fertilizing., In the same way we should prune unproductive things from our spiritual life and nourish the roots. He ended with a warning that just like the owner gave the tree only one more year, we don’t have forever either; we may not be around to see another Ash Wednesday.

  39. JohnNYC says: is the link (to the video I mentioned in a post above at: 5 March 2014 at 3:24 pm) I shot with my iPhone at Santissima Trinita’ dei Pellegrini here in Rome last night. The quality is poor but if I can figure out how to upload it to YouTube as better quality I will.

  40. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I hope you will excuse a ‘service note – and queries’. At the service I managed to get to (the only one anywhere near where I was) there was no priest, therefore, no Mass, and further, no blessing of ashes – instead, there were, if I understood it correctly (I arrived late and tried to stay unobtrusively at the back) ashes which had been blessed earlier in the day, in another church, which were then distributed.

    I had never thought about any of this before – ashes are a sacremental – are they often tried analogously with Holy Water? What becomes of ‘surplus’ ashes?

  41. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Oops: “sacramental”! My apologies!

  42. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    And I thought I was awake… “treated”! My further apologies!

  43. acricketchirps says:

    Did the blessing of ashes in the old rite.
    Sermon was an excellent meditation on 1) returning to dust, 2) focusing our Lenten observances upward toward God rather than inward on ourselves or, worse, outward towards others (i.e. for the praise of men).

  44. dholwell says:

    “Reform your lives,” and “Believe the Good News.”

  45. I didn’t make it to the station church, because I was at a tour of the catacombs. :) Did attend an Italian mass later in the day at San Salvatore in Lauro; I was very pleased that with my 3 weeks of Italian, I managed to understand a good bit of the sermon, partially thanks to Italian hand gestures. One of several good points were that he emphasized that making a good confession was an integral part of a good Lent. After Mass the priest brought the school children to the relic of the True Cross, explained what it was, had them recite a beautiful little prayer after him, and had them all kiss the reliquary. Didn’t know that the European custom of ashes is to sprinkle them on the head, not make a cross on the forehead, so that was interesting.

  46. JohnNYC: I wish I’d known about the pontifical mass! I’d have tried to make it! Do you know if there will be EF masses at any of the station churches this Lent? So far all the station masses I know of are the NAC’s OF and the 5.30 Italian OF.

  47. Jbuntin says:

    Attended a 2hr talk at the Mt. Carmel Center in Dallas, with Mass and distribution of ashes.
    The priest spoke on St. Therese of Lisieux and the spirituality of abandonment. It was great.

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