St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta marked the start of the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday Masses.
Office workers joined regular parishioners, local residents and school students for the Masses held at the Cathedral on 26 February. During Mass, ashes, marking humility and repentance, were placed on the worshiper’s forehead in the shape of a cross.
In his homily at the 12.30pm Mass, Fr Chris del Rosario, assistant priest of the Cathedral Parish, told the congregation that Lent is a time to prepare ourselves spiritually through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
“Ashes symbolise our mortality – we will eventually leave this earth. Lent instructs us that we have to be ready now. We have to prepare our souls now as we don’t know when God calls,” Fr Chris said.
“To prepare ourselves spiritually involves the marks of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These strengthen us spiritually to fight all the wiles of the devil and to turn to God with greater zeal.”
The 7.30pm Mass was celebrated by the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Diocese of Parramatta, Very Reverend Peter G. Williams.
Fr Peter in his homily spoke about the baptismal link to Lent.
“After our baptism, we are clothed in white, which symbolises our Christian dignity. Our sponsors are then presented with candles lit from the Paschal Candle, and we are told that we are a child of light, and that we are to carry the light of Christ into the world. Over time, our white garments become tarnished and stained, and the light of our candles is weak,” Fr Peter said.
“Although we receive our baptism, we do not conform to the image of Christ, as sin alienates us from God and from our communities.
“This Lenten season provides the opportunity for a conversion of heart and a renewal of ourselves if we are serious about true repentance.
“Sin leads to both personal and communal alienation. The ashes we receive on our foreheads are an expression of repentance as a Church and people, and a sign that we need to do more.
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return – that is the destiny of every one of us,” he said.
Following the 7.30pm Mass, the Diocese of Parramatta’s Project Compassion Launch 2020 was held at St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall.
This year, Project Compassion International Speaker, Florida Refer was the guest speaker. Florida is noted for her work in community development in the Philippines and with Indigenous Filipino groups.
The Lenten season is a 40-day period of fasting, pray, penance, and reflection ending with Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
View images from the Ash Wednesday Mass here or below.