It is on Ash Wednesday that we receive of ashes on our foreheads in order to mark the beginning of the 40-day period of Lenten penance (not counting the Sundays) marked by fasting, mortification, repentance and reflection.
According to the instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ashes of the departed may not be placed in a domestic residence and the ashes may not be divided among family members.
The Church through the Congregation for Divine Worship has consistently taught that “holding hands during the Our Father has become common place, but it is an illicit addition to the Liturgy. Holding hands is a sign of intimacy and not reconciliation, and as such disrupts the flow of the Sacramental signs in the Mass which leads to the Sacramental sign of intimacy with Christ and our neighbour, Holy Communion.”
Pilgrimages have been in existence for as long as the Christian faith has been around, going as far back to the time of persecution. The earliest archaeological evidence of pilgrimages points to early visitors to the home of Mary in Nazareth and scratching an 'M” on the walls of the cave home.
Christians began to Cross themselves as early as 200 AD by tracing a small cross on their foreheads. Over time, variant practices emerged as Christians began making larger crosses over items and themselves.
The birth of St John the Baptist highlights the importance of our role in preparing for Jesus in our lives. The Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul is a reminder of our missionary calling to witness to the truth.
FATHER GERARD LOUIS explains its relevance in the Mass
Advent is not a season of making resolutions as we would for the beginning of a calendar year, but it is about watching and guarding our hearts for Jesus.