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Is Ash Wednesday a Holy Day of Obligation?


Ash Wednesday 2010, St. Matthew Cathedral, Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Catholics pray during an Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, Washington, D.C., February 17, 2010.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Question: Is Ash Wednesday a Holy Day of Obligation?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent in the Roman Catholic Church, and many Catholics attend Mass on Ash Wednesday to be marked with ashes as a sign of their own mortality. But is Ash Wednesday a Holy Day of Obligation?
Answer: While all Roman Catholics are encouraged to attend Mass on Ash Wednesday in order to begin the Lenten season with the proper attitude and reflection, Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation. It is, however, a day of fasting and abstinence. For the regulations on fasting and abstinence, see Ash Wednesday in the Catholic Church and What Are the Rules for Fasting and Abstinence in the Catholic Church?

For the date of Ash Wednesday in this and future years, see When Is Ash Wednesday?

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