“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” was a Psalm of David as he repented to God for his sins. Such acts of repentance continue in many churches, including St. Agnes Catholic Church in Scottsbluff on Ash Wednesday.
As the congregation approached the altar, Father Vince Parson spread black ashes shaped like a cross onto their foreheads as a representation of a time to repent and change within the Christian denominations, especially Catholics.
Throughout the noon Ash Wednesday service, Parson described the beginning of the 40-day Lenten season as an opportunity to grow spiritually.
“Grant O Lord that we begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so as we take our battles with spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint,” Parson said.
As part of the Ash Wednesday service, Parson asked St. Agnes School students what is involved during Lent. The three forms of penance Catholics are taught are prayer, fasting and alms giving. Prayer is an important part of growing spiritually, he asked the students about what are components of a conversation. While talking to God is a part of prayer, Parson emphasized the importance of listening.
“Praying to God requires not only talking, but also listening,” he said. “You can’t hear God if you’re not listening. Sometimes, we have a harder time listening. It’s not just about hearing God, but listening to how he is moving in your life.”
Alms giving is also an important component of the Lenten season. Parson emphasized the importance of taking time to prioritize prayer.
“It’s important to sit and take time for prayer,” he said. “If you’re not reflecting on how God is moving in your life, you might miss something.”
Lent is a time where Catholics reflect on their actions and repent prior to the coming of Jesus on Easter. The season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on sundown on Holy Thursday, which is when Jesus held the Last Supper with his disciples.
Following the noon mass, St. Agnes students Maddie Zeiler and Zoe Caivert said they learned Lent was a time to thank God and give to others.
“I learned to love God by praying to him,” Zeiler said. “When I pray I want to thank God for what he did for us.”
Caivert added, “You can give stuff away to be kind and helpful to them.”
For Hope Kadolph of Scottsbluff, Wednesday’s noon mass was a time of reflection.
“I came to reflect on all the things in my life, both good and bad,” Kadolph said. “I want to become better in my relationship with God.”
Angela Hernandez also attended the noon mass with her daughter, Ivy Kae Becker.
“This is my daughter’s first time getting ashes placed on her forehead where she can remember,” Hernandez said. “She’s been looking forward to it all week.”
Hernandez said she appreciates the opportunity her daughter has to receive an education while also learning about God.
“I’m teaching her that God gave up his only son for us, so we need to give up something during Lent for him,” she said. “I’m glad they get to learn about the church through their private school education.”
Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstain from eating meat every Friday during Lent.
Within many Christian churches on Palm Sunday, palms are used to symbolize Jesus’ jubilant entrance into Jerusalem on the Sunday before his crucifixion. As the people came out into the streets to greet Jesus, they are said to have waved palm fronds before betraying him six days later to watch his crucifixion.