Rev. Tom Stabile of St. Andrew Catholic Church led prayers and the distribution of ashes throughout the service and emphasized the purpose of lent to church members.
“It’s a season to remind us that we need to pray, meaning not just say prayers but listen to what God has to say,” said Stabile.
Ash Wednesday is celebrated by many sects of Christianity as it marks the beginning of Lent in the liturgical calendar. This year, Lent lasts 46 days leading up to Easter. Stabile said the church has seen non-catholics recognizing the period’s significance over the years.
“We also have a lot of people who aren’t Catholic that like coming,” he said. “It’s a way for them to start this season that they do appreciate.”
St. Andrew Catholic Church held services throughout the day Wednesday to celebrate with their community. The service included songs and scripture to remind the community of the importance and goals of Ash Wednesday.
“It gives us the opportunity to get started on the right foot,” Stabile said.
Stabile added that Lent is often associated with the sacrifice of something that distracts us from other things our lives.
“From foods, drink… things that we like to watch,” said Stabile, “it’s a way of self-denial so that we are focusing our attention on something else.”
These next 46-days allow Christians to get closer to their faith and grow through Christ, said Texas Christian University student Erica Pieper.
Pieper said she believes the importance of Lent lies in its ability for people to reset and help others.
“Its important to make a sacrifice like God did for us on the cross,” said another member of St. Andrew Catholic Church.
The church hosts a program throughout lent asking members to bring canned goods such as chili and spaghetti sauce as part of a food pantry outreach. Stabile also said during the service that members of the church are encouraged to sacrifice every Wednesday during lent by donating $2 to the food pantry.
Stabile added that lent is as much of a personal journey as it is a charitable service to others.
“We take what we are fasting from and turn it into a meaningful way that it can be used for the good of someone else,” said Stabile.