As the start of the Lenten season, Ash Wednesday is an important day in the life of the Church. Here are five things (other than attending Mass and receiving ashes, of course!) that you can do to make your Ash Wednesday more meaningful. 

1. Pray the Stations of the Cross

Begin the season of Lent by focusing on the center of not only the season, but the entire Christian life by praying the Stations of the Cross. There are many resources available, including on Simply Catholic. Or you might not even use meditations and just focus on the images of each station with a few minutes’ reflection. This works great with kids, too. Put Christ and his cross at the center of this Lent from the start.

2. Make a Donation to Charity

Many charities are seeing greater need than ever before in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. And their resources are also dwindling faster than before in many cases. Religious communities dedicated to prayer and service to the Church also face greater needs. Start Lent by picking a charity and making a donation on Ash Wednesday.

3. Increase Fasting

The Church obliges Catholics aged 18 through 59 to fast on Ash Wednesday. But that does not mean others outside of that age range cannot take on some form of fasting. It need not be food related. Perhaps fast from doing something you like (maybe looking at your phone?) and focus more on prayer or service. Try taking something out of your routine and replacing it with a few minutes dedicated to reading Scripture.

4. Pray the Rosary

Lent is a perfect time to focus on the Gospels and grow in greater intimacy with the Lord. Often understood as “the Gospel in miniature,” the rosary is a perfect devotion to do this. Although Wednesdays are traditionally set aside for praying the Glorious Mysteries, perhaps pray the Sorrowful Mysteries on Ash Wednesday. Pray that, by meditating on Christ’s suffering, you can be more attuned to hearing and responding to the cry of the poor.

5. Call a Friend

Take some time to call someone who might be lonely or need encouragement to grow closer to the Lord. Lent is a time to give of yourself for others, and many are suffering these days. Perhaps you can remind the person it is Ash Wednesday and ask them about how they plan to observe the holy season. You don’t need to pry, but be encouraging and helpful.

Michael R. Heinlein is editor of Simply Catholic.