by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun
In preparation for the highest liturgical feast day in the Christian tradition, residents of many faiths will participate in upcoming church services on Ash Wednesday.
Receiving ashes on Wednesday – in the sign of a cross on the forehead – is a symbol “to get yourself ready for the coming of Christ at Easter,” said Gay S. Wellborn, vicar of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a period of 40 days of spiritual preparation for Easter, said Leo Padget, pastor of St. Anne’s Catholic Church.
“It’s a sign of repentance, and the beginning of the penitential season,” said Padget. “It’s the low point that builds up to the great and glorious finish at Easter.”
As the Lenten season starts, “the ashes remind us of our mortality and that Christ died for us,” said Tom Broom, pastor of Center Street United Methodist Church.
In first chapter of the Bible, Genesis, it states: “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shall return.”
Throughout Lent, a spiritual renewal takes place, said Broom, through “prayer, fasting and the giving of time and money.”
Also, “we usually try to make a personal sacrifice of something,” said Broom. “I fast at least one day a week during the Lenten season.”
During Lent many people do follow the tradition of giving up something, as a symbol of sacrifice, or take on something during the preparatory time, said Wellborn.
“I give up television and social events,” said Wellborn, adding that her husband gives her a daily report of news events.
While her husband is watching television, Wellborn said, “I go to another room and do my reading or prayer. It’s a time to get prepared.”
Give up television?
“It’s surprising, it’s really not that hard,” she said.
Padget said he encourages his congregation to give up television.
Many parishioners take on additional charitable works such as volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul store or take on additional prayers or attend special Lenten services throughout the 40-day period, he said.
Ash Wednesday is one of the most highly attended church services during the year, the pastors said.
“The church will be full at each of the services,” Padget said. “And, you don’t have to be Catholic to come receive ashes.”
Wellborn and Broom also said everyone is welcome to attend their respective services.