An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Ash Wednesday

Today, Ash Wednesday, begins the liturgical season of Lent, a forty day preparation for the great feast of Easter. Traditionally, Lent is a time of increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as Christians seek to enter into Jesus’ Paschal Mystery of His suffering, death, and Resurrection.

In his Lenten Message this year, Pope Benedict reminded us that living the Christian life means recognizing the fundamental communion that exists among all people; by virtue of being human, we are all children of God, and therefore brothers and sisters. One effect of this profound communion is that we share responsibility for each other’s integral well-being, both physically and spiritually. As Pope Benedict explains, “The other is part of me, and…his or her life, his or her salvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profound aspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better or for worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension.”

Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension. Our Holy Father’s short but powerful statement connects well with the Church’s teaching on marriage. Rather than being an entirely private relationship between a man and a woman, each and every marriage has a profound impact on the world. As the Second Vatican Council put it, “The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community produced by marriage and family” (GS, no. 47). The Church is concerned about marriage because she is concerned about the integral well-being of each and every person, who is invariably affected by marriage – or the lack thereof.

We invite you this Lent to join us in praying for the promotion and defense of marriage, using our prayer or your own.

Other resources for Lent:

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