February 14, 2024 | Source & Summit
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Parishioners of Resurrection Catholic Church in Dawson Springs, Ky., pray during Ash Wednesday Mass March 2, 2022. OSV NEWS PHOTO/CNS FILE, BOB ROLLER

Source & Summit: Ash Wednesday

(The faithful) taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the source and summit of the whole Christian life, offer the Divine Victim to God, and themselves along with it. 

-The Second Vatican Council fathers in Lumen Gentium, #11

Source & Summit is a feature of The Western Kentucky Catholic online, celebrating the National Eucharistic Revival: Year of Parish Revival. Intended to help Catholics of our parishes to probe the riches of our liturgical year and celebrate the liturgy well, the column will always start with the Bible readings for the Mass of the Day to help us reflect on, and help to “unpack” and expand our experiences at liturgy into the domestic church (the home) and the workplace.

Sunday reflections will be based on the Lord’s Day, the Liturgy, the Eucharist, and, occasionally, community.


February 14, 2024:

Ash Wednesday



Joel 2:12—18 

Psalm 51:3-6, 12—14, 17 

Corinthians 5:20—6:2 

Matthew 6:1—6, 16—18


Today marks the first day of the 40 days of Lent – a six-week period of preparation for Easter dedicated to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Ash Wednesday tends to get a bad rap – we are, after all, dirtied with ashes on our forehead and reminded that we will someday return to dust.  It doesn’t seem like a very positive note on which to begin our journey to Easter.

But if we look a little closer, we find that the message of Ash Wednesday has much more to do with life than with death.  For Christians, the ashes of Lent are not the end, but the beginning of a journey to resurrection and life.  God is always about bringing something new from the ashes.  Death is not the end.  God always invites us into the bigger picture of God’s love for us, and that love is always transformative.

The Church offers us the age-old Lenten practices of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer as an opportunity to encounter God’s love and to be transformed.

Fasting:  When fasting is understood as a way of letting go of our reliance on things we don’t actually need, it can be a powerful form of prayer.  It’s fine to give up desserts for Lent if that helps us reflect on the things we can do without.  Perhaps it can be more powerful, though, to fast from gossip or unnecessary spending or an insistence on having the last word.  The prophet Isaiah insisted that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God.

Almsgiving:  Giving money to the poor is one of the most concrete acts of charity.  Almsgiving, though, is more than just giving money.  It is an act that pleases God when we care for our neighbor in need, whatever that need may be.  The hope when we give alms is that we will learn to be generous and more dependent on God to meet our needs, rather than providing for ourselves while forgetting the needs of others.

Prayer:  Pope Francis reminds us that “Lent is a privileged time for prayer.”  When we develop a lifestyle of prayer, we develop a closer relationship to each person of the Trinity.  There is no right or wrong way to pray.  Jesus just wants us to be with Him!  So just start there.

The ashes of Ash Wednesday are not the end of the story.  They mark a beginning, the beginning of Lent which we know will end in the glory of Easter.  We die to ourselves each day in the hope of rising again.  That is the meaning of the ashes we receive today and the purpose of our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

-Martha Hagan

Martha is the Vice-Chancellor of the Diocese of Owensboro and the Administrative Assistant to the Bishop.


To learn more about the Diocese of Owensboro’s celebration of the National Eucharistic Revival, visit https://owensborodiocese.org/eucharistic-revival/.


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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
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