News: Ash Wednesday begins Lenten season

February 25, 2020

Ash Wednesday distribution of ashes

Catholics in the Diocese of Des Moines kick off the Lenten season this week with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 26.  This is a significant day in the Catholic Church kicking off a 40-day  period of prayer, fasting and charity that prepares the faithful and newcomers to the faith to celebrate Easter with renewed hearts.  

At Ash Wednesday services, people traditionally are marked with the ashes from burnt palm branches as way of recognizing their human frailty, sinfulness and need for repentance in their lifelong journey of conversion.

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (April 10) are days of fasting within the Church for those between the ages of 18 and 59. They may eat only one full meal and two other meals consisting of substantially less food. There should be no food taken between meals. Anyone whose health is threatened by fasting is exempt. Catholics age 14 and older also abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays of Lent.

Contact your local Catholic church for Mass times to receive ashes. Ashes will be distributed at St. Ambrose Cathedral, at 6th and High Streets in Des Moines, on Wednesday at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:10 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Attending services and receiving ashes is open to anyone, regardless of whether they are a member of the Catholic Church. 

Parishes and schools are encouraged to support the CRS Rice Bowl effort, formerly called Operation Rice Bowl, during the Lenten season. The Rice Bowl helps us live in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable around the world. Twenty-five percent of the donations raised through the Rice Bowl effort stay in the Diocese of Des Moines, assisting local people in need. The other 75 percent supports people living in poverty through Catholic Relief Services programs in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Here is a list of parish Friday fish fry dinners, Des Moines-area communal reconciliation services and  more information about Lent.