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In more ways than one, Ash Wednesday — celebrated March 1 this year — leaves a mark. "In terms of liturgical significance, it's very minor, but people observe it as overwhelmingly important," Thomas Humphries said. It draws Catholics to churches in droves even though it is not a holy day of obligation.
Sixth-graders got a Lenten sneak preview when their pastor visited class on Valentine's Day.
Christians must "enter into the mystery" of the Easter Triduum and make Jesus' feelings and attitudes their own, Pope Francis said.
In a tradition dating back to the early Church, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted gathered March 30 with his brother priests to bless the oils that will be used in sacraments during the coming year.
From Jerusalem to Rome to parishes around the world, the pope and local bishops will soon carry out the annual custom of preparing and distributing to churches the holy oils.
From modern-day martyrs to those who quietly care for the sick or elderly, Pope Francis remembered all those who "sacrifice themselves daily," following Jesus in serving others and giving witness to the Gospel.
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