Ash Wednesday calls for reflection, restructure and charity

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 5, 2014

SIGN OF THE CROSS: Blessed ashes are used to make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of those who participate in Ash Wednesday. File photo

SIGN OF THE CROSS: Blessed ashes are used to make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of those who participate in Ash Wednesday.
File photo

Ash Wednesday is upon us.

While not all faiths practice a time of sacrifice and reflection in the time leading up to Easter, it is common for Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans and others to practice Lent in some form said, Jim Seghers, a teacher of Sacred Scripture and Apologetics, the defense of the Catholic faith, for the past 22 years and the RCIA director at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.

Seghers gave insight into the ceremony and custom of Ash Wednesday.

“Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of Lent, which is a time of spiritual renewal, self examination and proper prioritization of the importance placed on pleasure, possessions, pride, sex, money and power in our lives,” he said.

Seghers says members of the congregation bring the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday to be burned to ashes that are blessed and then placed on the foreheads of Christians in the symbol of the cross.

“This is a reminder of Christ’s suffering that he endured to allow us to live spiritually,” he said. “It is a sign that we, as Christians, have entered a penitential season.”

Fasting and self-denial are the most popular words associated with the season but another part that is not as well known is almsgiving.

“Almsgiving is an important part of Lent,” Seghers said. “Here we are challenged to prioritize our finance by putting God and the poor first. This prevents us from centering our life on money, success and things — an easy trap in our materialistic society.”

Above all, Lent calls us to meet and embrace our faith in a radical way, he said.

The Ash Wednesday mass schedule for St. Charles Borromeo is 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.