Ash Wednesday

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, many teens showed up to school with a cross marked with ash on their forehead due to Ash Wednesday, which marked the beginning of Lent.Lent is associated with Baptism and the preparation it takes to becoming baptized. This celebration of Lent is a 40-day process, which is said to have been developed in the fourth century. On Ash Wednesday those of Catholic morals according to ancient ways, are encouraged to go to the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest dips his thumb into ashes and marks the forehead with the symbol of the cross. During this ceremony the priest repeats the words: "Remember man that thou are dust and unto dust shalt return." "[My family and I] went to church and marked on our foreheads [the cross] as a way of following the Nine vitas example, who did penance with sackcloths and ashes." said Pedro Peralta, a student at Warren High. "We also do not eat meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays for one month." The ashes that are used during this ceremony are those of burnt remains of the palms of the previous Palm Sundays, and are sprinkled with holy water and incense. Ash is said to be an ancient symbol of repentance. Another action that comes along with Lent is giving up something as a sacrifice of purifying the soul. The goal is not just to hold back from doing something that is done on a daily bases for the 40 days, that may be sinful and then go back to one's old ways after the time is up. The goal is to make a habit of stopping for good. This is one element of the process to conversion of a new life in Christ. Many people choose different things to give up, for example stopping the usage of "bad" words, or dedicating the time one used to watch television and read the bible instead, the list could go on. "As a child I would give up candy, fighting with my siblings, or promised to keep my room clean." said Adriana Rodriguez, a student at Warren High. "Now I mainly promise to try to be a better person." For Peralta the significance of giving up something resembles to him the way in which Jesus gave up his life for all of human kind. Along with giving up something for Lent, comes Scrutinies and Penance. This is the time in which baptismal preparation and baptismal renewal takes place. During this time one reflects on their life and prays to God for the grace to over come the power of sin that they face everyday. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the three traditional pillars of Lent. More time is given to prayer for oneself and others who are in search of the Lord. Fasting in the early Church was to be two days before Easter, but later became a 40-day celebration process. Fasting includes not eating any red meats on Ash Wednesday and every Friday after that until Easter. To Catholic's fasting is as linked to living the baptismal promise. Almsgiving is the third traditional pillar, which is a sign of care for those in need and expression and gratitude for all God has given humans. During Lent at least once there is a service on the Stations of the Cross. For many people this is a very moving and overwhelming time as the fourteen stations are remembered or reenacted. Station one is when Jesus is condemned to death. Station two is when Jesus is made to bear His Cross. Station three, He falls under His Cross. Station four, Jesus meets His mother. Station five is when Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross. Station six is when Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. Station seven, Jesus falls the second time. Station eight, Jesus speaks to the daughters of Jerusalem. Station nine, Jesus falls the third time. Station ten, Jesus is stripped of His garments. Station eleven, Jesus is nailed to the Cross. Station twelve, Jesus dies on the Cross. Station thirteen, Jesus is taken down from the Cross. Station fourteen, Jesus is buried in the sepulcher. ********** Published: March 6, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 46