Modified Ash Wednesday Masses and separate ash distribution services set for next week

PORTLAND — To mark the beginning of the Lenten season, Bishop Robert Deeley will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Feb. 17 at 12:15 p.m. The Mass will also be available via livestream at

Listings of Ash Wednesday Masses scheduled for Catholic churches in Maine are available on the Diocese of Portland’s website. To search by city or town, visit To search by parish, visit Listings of ash distribution outside of Masses are also included.

Due to the pandemic, the method of imposition will be modified for this year to avoid physical contact. As each person approaches, the priest or minister distributing ashes will take a pinch of ashes between the thumb and forefinger. While rubbing the thumb and forefinger together, the minister will sprinkle the ashes over the crown of the head in the shape of a cross. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts.

Lent is a period of intense spiritual renewal both for Christians who prepare to celebrate the annual commemoration of the Paschal mystery of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, as well as for the elect, who will be baptized and received into the full communion of the Church at Easter. A special Lenten section has been created on the Diocese of Portland’s website featuring Mass times; parish, prayer, and retreat opportunities; a “Saints of Lent” section; Scripture reflections; Holy Week details and information; and ways to share your gifts. To visit the site, which will be updated continually before and during Lent, visit

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