Photo Credit: Illustration by Olivia Lake
Q & A: Seniors Describe How They Celebrate Ash Wednesday
Crimson Crier: Explain what Ash Wednesday is.
Harris Spinks: Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent, which spiritually prepares us to celebrate the resurrection of Christ at Easter. In the Catholic Church, it’s a holy day of obligation where we go to mass to have the cross marked on our forehead with ashes of palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday and are told to ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel.’
Emily Centamore: Ash Wednesday is the day that marks the beginning of Lent, which is a time during which a lot of people give something up so that they can grow closer to God. We take the time on Ash Wednesday to remember the evil of our sin and the mercy of God in providing us a path to reconciliation.
CC: How will you be celebrating Ash Wednesday this year? What will you be giving up?
Spinks: I celebrate Ash Wednesday every year. This year, I plan to give up desserts. However, Lent is not just about ‘giving something up.’ It gives us the opportunity to reflect as Christians and further deepen and express our faith. During this time, I hope to read more of my Bible at home, become better at praying and further give my time and services back to the Church.
Centamore: I’m planning to give up games and social media on my phone.
CC: Explain the importance this holiday has on you and/or your family.
Spinks: This holiday is very important to me and my family. We begin out fast by not eating meat that day and we attend mass in the evening.
Centamore: Ash Wednesday has some sentimental significance to me because I have memories of going with my family to our church’s Ash Wednesday service. However, it has more of a personal significance to me because giving up YouTube for Lent right before COVID is what allowed me to grow so much in my faith during quarantine.
CC: Describe the days leading up to the holiday and all the festivities your family or church celebrates.
Spinks: The day before Ash Wednesday is Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. My mom is from Louisiana, so we always decorate our homes with Mardi Gras beads and buy king cakes to eat that evening.
Centamore: On Ash Wednesday, my church holds a service on the meaning of the day and everyone in the congregation can have a cross drawn in ashes on their foreheads to symbolize the frailty of humans independent of God.
CC: What does Ash Wednesday symbolize to you?
Spinks: Ash Wednesday is the beginning of my Lenten journey. I take every opportunity to reflect and remind myself why I am participating: Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead so that the world could be forgiven of sin.
Centamore: Ash Wednesday represents a time for me to rest in the admission of my sins to God and to more fully accept his goodness. During Lent, every time I want to partake in what I have given up I am reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for me. After that, I am able to continue my fast with joy instead of unhappiness.
CC: What is your favorite part about Ash Wednesday and explain why?
Spinks: My favorite part is going to mass in the evening. I enjoy going to church, but going on Ash Wednesday feels unique because of the anointing with ashes.
Centamore: My favorite part about Ash Wednesday is that during the Lent season that follows, I am devoting something to God for a season. Although nothing I do could ever come close to repaying him, it is nice to do something self-sacrificial for someone you love.
CC: What part of this holiday is difficult and why?
Spinks: The part about Ash Wednesday and Lent that can be difficult is fasting. Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays in between are obligatory days of fasting. On those days, Catholics abstain from eating meat, except for fish, and we eat two small meals and one large meal, with the smaller two combined not being greater than the larger.
Centamore: It can be difficult to stick to my fast during Lent. Sometimes when I am tempted, my mind is correctly guided to God. But other times, I can definitely end up frustrated with the situation I ‘put myself in.’
CC: Describe previous Ash Wednesdays that have left a lasting impact on you.
Spinks: I would say last year’s Lent meant a lot to me. It had been almost a year since I received the Sacrament of Confirmation, and I began reading my personal Bible that was gifted to me. It was the first time I had read through the Bible outside of any church service or religion class.
Centamore: When I suddenly had so much free time during quarantine, I wasn’t addicted to YouTube like I might’ve been if not for Lent. The first video I saw when I got back on YouTube after Easter convicted me of my faith, and from there I was able to spend some of my extra free time learning about God through reading the Bible and praying.