Lent is a special season within the Church year that focuses on the two-fold theme of repentance and Baptism. We prepare ourselves to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Lent begins with the celebration of Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021 and ends with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021. This year, Lent looks a little different as we are still amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Therefore, it is important that we continue to practice social distancing, the wearing of masks, sanitizing, and employ safety precautions. IMPORTANT GUIDELINES FOR ALL CATHOLICS Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by everyone 18 years and older, who has not yet celebrated their 59th birthday. On a fast day, one full meal is allowed. Two other meals, enough to maintain strength, may be taken, according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but consuming liquids, including milk and juices, is allowed. Abstinence is observed by everyone 14 years of age or older. On days of abstinence, no meat is allowed. Note that when health or the ability to work is affected, the law does not apply. Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays during Lent, and Good Friday are days of abstinence. If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, other suitable forms of self-denial are encouraged. ASH WEDNESDAY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 On January 12, the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments (Holy See) issued the following statement: Distribution of Ashes in Time of Pandemic The Priest says the prayer for blessing the ashes. He sprinkles the ashes with holy water, without saying anything. Then he addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”, or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. The Priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places. The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything.