Before the distribution of ashes, the Rev. Fabio Alvarez Posada reminded his congregation that the Lenten season is a time for prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving.
“Try to live day by day, especially during this Lenten season,” he said. “Do something good.”
St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Community offered seven services on Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season, which leads up to Easter.
At Pinecrest Academy, students observed Lent in school, including junior Paloma Carroll.
“It helps us to remember what we’re preparing ourselves for, which is the celebration of Easter and the passion of Christ,” she said.
Carroll said for sacrifices, she’ll do little things, such as waking up early to do dishes for her mother. This year, she plans to give up sweets and listening to music in the car.
“It’s hard, but when I keep in mind what I’m doing it for, it’s not as difficult anymore,” she said. “It actually gives me joy because sacrifice isn’t a bad thing. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Carroll said her favorite part of Lent is Holy Week. She typically spends the week doing mission work.
This year, Carroll will be in the Philippines. The retreats and missions “give me an opportunity to be with Christ,” she said.
“I try to silence my heart to listen to him,” she said. “It’s stepping out from our normal lives and it’s doing the stuff Jesus used to do.”
Phil Barrecca, director of liturgy and music at St. Brendan, said foreheads marked with ashes are a symbol of the faith.
“Sacrementals are symbols that are part of our tradition that also remind us of certain aspects of our faith,” he said. “One of the major sacramentals as part of the church year are ashes.
“That’s very well known across Christian denominations on Ash Wednesday to be marked with ashes on your forehead as a sign of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.”
In the Roman Catholic faith, Lent concludes with the great Triduum, or the great three days. Barrecca said it’s been called the Passover for Christians.
The celebration of Easter season continues for 50 days until the solemnity of the Pentecost, a feast celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and Virgin Mary.
“The great three days that celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — it’s really the central celebration of our whole church year,” Barrecca said.