Ash Wednesday at Daylesford AbbeyAsh Wednesday is the start of the liturgical season of Lent, a 40-day journey as we prepare to celebrate the great solemnity of Easter. Many Catholics to go their local church, and to Daylesford Abbey, to receive ashes.

These ashes are from the palm branches of the previous year’s Palm Sunday that have been burnt and cooled, to be used for the coming Ash Wednesday. These ashes are a powerful sign of our continuing journey of change and growth.

People are signed on the forehead with the sign of the cross and the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” from Mark, 1:15 or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” from Genesis 3:19

Having the sign of the cross made on our forehead with ashes is a powerful reminder that our earthly journey does not last forever, and that our words and actions throughout our life prepare us for eternal life.

The responsorial psalm from Ash Wednesday asks God “to be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” The reality is that none of us are perfect, and we all do things that may be unkind or hurtful to ourselves or others. During Lent we can focus on what we can do to be kinder, more generous, more caring, and more loving to our families, friends, and strangers too.

In addition to being signed with ashes, the days of Lent are a special time for prayer, Lenten fasting and almsgiving.

For prayer, many people practice Lectio Divina. Consider spending time reading and reflecting on Sacred Scripture each day.  Ash Wednesday at Daylesford Abbey Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is a straightforward process to learn and use.  Select a Scripture passage upon which to reflect.  The Lenten Gospel of the day or the first reading of the day are a great start.

Read the passage two or three times. Reflect and meditate on the word of God and a word or phrase that stood out for you. Quietly respond to God in your thoughts and in your silence. Lastly be still and rest in the presence of God.

Also starting on February 26 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST Nine Experiments in Prayer – Paul Burgmayer, Spiritual Director at Daylesford Abbey Meeting via Zoom Offering: $100. Have you ever wished you knew more about prayer? Or wanted diverse ways to pray that deepen your experience of and relationship with God? If so, this is the class for you. Using the book 50 Ways to Pray by Tesesa A. Blythe as our guide, for ten weeks we will explore prayer forms from a variety of faith traditions, both ancient and modern.

Ash Wednesday at Daylesford Abbey Bethesda Alms GivingFor Catholics 21 years or older, we fast from meat on Fridays during Lent. For us who are older, we may remember not eating meat on any Friday. As Catholic children we also did not eat candy during Lent, so we would excitedly wait for the Easter egg hunt and search for our Easter baskets filled with candy the Easter bunny, with help from our parents, had left.

For almsgiving, this season consider making a special donation to the unhoused, the poor, and the hungry. You can also share your time and talents. Visit for a list and information on many ways to work with and help others.

The Bethesda project is a ministry to and with the homeless. This ministry was founded in 1979 by Norbertine priest Dominic Rossi, now the abbot of Daylesford Abbey. They provide support for the homeless both in collecting and delivering casseroles each month and with a special collection throughout Lent and Holy Week.

The priests also support Mission Santa Maria as it ministers to the migrant community in Chester County, both with monthly deliveries of non-perishable food as well as a special collection throughout Advent.

Rather than focusing on the negative, Lent can be a wonderful time and journey of change and growth, growth in patience, humility, and caring for others. Then we can genuinely enjoy the new life of Easter, when we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead, and our new life of caring, love, prayer, our new way of being too.