Thomas Merton gives a reminder about last Wednesday and today:
As some may be surprised to learn, Ash Wednesday is not the beginning of Lent, but only the beginning of the Lenten fast.
What does it mean that the forty days are counted from today? That Lent ends at sundown on Holy Thursday, but also the past four days have been a preliminary. You still had time to mess up once or twice before getting things resolved and your own interior resolution strengthened. By today, though, be ready.
The dramatic, medieval rites of Ash Wednesday may perhaps make a stronger and more immediate appeal to our feelings. The Mass of the first Sunday however leads us deeper into the real mystery of Lent, uniting us more profoundly and more directly with the Christ who, praying and fasting in us, will purify us and oiffer us together with himself to the Father in the glory of his Easter victory.