Ash Wednesday, February 26, will mark the start of the solemn 40-day season of Lent. Parishes throughout the 11-county Diocese of Scranton will distribute ashes to remind individuals of their mortality. A comprehensive listing of parish Mass times for Ash Wednesday can be found at

At the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, the Mother Church of the Diocese, ashes will be distributed during the 6:30 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 12:10 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Masses. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will be the principal celebrant of the 12:10 p.m. Pontifical Mass.

“Lent challenges us to consider the gift and blessing of the Sacrament of Baptism. On the First Sunday of Lent, we will welcome catechumens into the ranks of the elect; those from our midst who have begun the journey of conversion and who will soon experience the saving power of Jesus in the Easter mysteries of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Their ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call gives us hope and should encourage us to recommit ourselves to the vows that were made at our own baptisms,” Bishop Bambera said.

During Lent, the Cathedral of Saint Peter will offer several ways in which the faithful can deepen their relationship with Jesus and come to know him in a more intimate way.

On Fridays, the Stations of the Cross will be prayed following the 12:10 p.m. Mass and Novena to Saint John Neumann. The Stations will air on CTV: Catholic Television live on February 28 after the 12:10 p.m. Mass, and then on succeeding Fridays at 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Lent is a time of prayer, penance and sacrifice leading to the most sacred time of the Church year, Holy Week, when the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are commemorated. The solemn observance culminates in the greatest celebration of the Church, Easter Sunday, which will be observed on April 12.

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of universal fast and abstinence in the Church. Catholics between 18 years old and the beginning of their 60th year must fast by consuming only one full meal and two partial meals on those sacred days. Catholics who have completed their 14th year must also abstain from eating any meat or meat products on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent.

Ash Wednesday Retreat

The Office for Parish Life will offer a retreat on Ash Wednesday, Feb.26, at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, 330 Wyoming Avenue, Scranton. The day will begin at 9:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. All faithful of the Diocese are welcome.

Catherine Butel, Diocesan Secretary for Parish Life, will lead the retreat with the theme “Radiate Christ.”

The retreat day will include Mass celebrated at 12:10 p.m. in the Cathedral with distribution of ashes. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available prior to Mass. Lunch will be served following the noon-time Ash Wednesday liturgy.

The fee for the day is $30, which includes lunch. To register, call Jacki Douglas at the Office for Parish Life, (570) 207-2213, ext. 1100, or e-mail Registration is also available at

Parishes Extend Opportunities for Sacrament of Reconciliation

The Church encourages us to make confession a regular part of our spiritual life, especially during the holy season of Lent, as we reflect on our baptism and repentance. Again this year, parishes are participating in a Lenten initiative called The Light Is On for You. Every Monday evening during the Lenten season, beginning March 2 and continuing through Monday of the last full week of Lent, March 30, confessions are heard in every parish from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. so that Catholics can come to or return to this incredible source of God’s grace, mercy and healing.