La. Catholics celebrate Ash Wednesday

CROWLEY – On this day, many Christians around the world will come together to celebrate Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, which is a season celebrated for forty days prior to Easter Sunday.

As the celebration of Mardi Gras ends, many religions use Ash Wednesday as a day of reflection and moderation. For centuries, Mardi Gras has been known as the carnival before the somber days of Lent, as the term carnivale is Latin for “farewell to meat.”

Special services are held by Roman Catholics, Anglican, Lutheran and some Protestant churches. On this Holy day in the Roman Catholic church, the blessing and application of ashes created from the burning of palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration are used. Traditionally, those distributing the ashes say these words as they make the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn from sin and live in the Gospel.”

The distribution of ashes dates back to ancient Biblical traditions of covering one’s head with ashes, wearing sackcloth and fasting. Ashes are a symbol to believers of our mortality and as a call to repentance, as in earlier times when those who had sinned and wished to be readmitted to the Church would begin public penance. Typically, Catholics leave this sign on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

Fasting and abstinence from meat as a form of penance, as well as a time for believers to take stock of their spiritual lives. These are common practices that have been handed down through the Church, as Catholics over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 are required to take part in these rituals. Many believers also take this time to reflect on spiritual goals in preparation for the upcoming Easter season, such as going to confession or giving up something they enjoy as a form of penance.

Mass schedules for St. Michael Church on Ash Wednesday are 6:30 a.m., 12:05 noon and 5:30 p.m. Also, St. Michael School will celebrate a Mass at 8:45 a.m. and Notre Dame High School at 9:05 a.m.

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