Ash Wednesday marks beginning of Lent with ecumenical service

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By Celena L. Flores

The crisp, refreshing taste of an ice cold beer cooling the taste buds of international business sophomore Angel Hernandez will have to be put on hold with the start of Lent.

Hernandez has been an active member of the Catholic Student Association for a year and plans to practice “viacruxis” or “way of the cross,” a stations prayer about the passion of Christ.

On Wednesday, there will be an ecumenical celebration of the start of Lent, Ash Wednesday, hosted by the Catholic and Methodist student centers. 

The service will be at 10:30 a.m. in the craft room on the second floor of Loftin Student Center. The service is open to everyone and will be followed by a Catholic Mass at 12:15 p.m.

The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and ends 40 days later on Holy Thursday at sundown. This is followed by the celebration of Easter, believed to be the third day after Christ’s death.

“Lent is a time of reflection and thanksgiving,” Catholic campus minister Joseph Liedeke said. “The three main things that make up Lent are sacrifices, alms giving and praying.”

Catholics also are required to go to confession or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is a practice of confessing sins and asking for forgiveness.

“While Jesus was in the desert, he gave alms, prayed and made hard sacrifices. Examples are not having any food or water and being tempted by the devil every day,” Liedeke said.

Because Christ made sacrifices, Catholics often make a sacrifice throughout the season until Easter. These sacrifices usually involve refraining from enjoying something a person likes — materialistic or a habit.

Catholics also are supposed to give up eating meat Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays; however, most Catholics only practice this on Friday.

Instead, many eat fish because fish is not universally recognized as meat.

“People often misinterpret why Catholics ‘give up something.’ We don’t necessarily just give up something, but rather make a sacrifice. There are different ways that you can sacrifice. For instance, we are doing a sock drive for the homeless. Instead of ‘giving up something,’ you are giving thanks for what you have and sharing that with other people. By doing something positive, we reflect on Jesus’ life,” he said.

From 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Feb. 11, the Catholic Student Center will reflect on the stations of the cross in the center’s third floor chapel. This refection will continue Mondays until Lent is over.

The stations of the cross is a step-by-step reflection of Christ’s arrest through his crucifixion.

On  Feb. 29, the Archdiocese of San Antonio will lead a Lenten Walk for Justice. The walk will start at Milam Park and end at San Fernando Cathedral.

“This walk is a way to reach out and send a message that as Christians, we need to live life as Christ did.”

The Rev. Dr. David Semrad, director of the Methodist Student Center, said Lent is a way for Methodists to walk with Christ and be a part of the Last Supper, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ.

Liedeke said in life, people often stumble upon obstacles. Lent is a way of getting closer to God and to help people know that Christ is there to help because he had his own struggles.

To members of the United Methodist Church, Lent is a way to sacrifice and reach out. “It is a personal preparation to walk with Christ into the holy city of Bethlehem,” Semrad said.

“Christ suffered for us. We should know that pain and feel it within ourselves and in other people,” Semrad said.

The Methodist Student Center is also planning outreach ministries during Lent. “We ask our students to give something up and also do something good for society,” he said.

The center plans to have a clothing drive for the homeless, and also plans to make a spring break trip to Port Arthur to assist with Hurricane Rita recovery.

The recovery will consist of prayer during Holy Week, along with rebuilding a house for a family.

Semrad said the purpose of Lent is a preparation for Holy Week, the last week of Lent before Easter.

The Pharisees, or Jewish religious leaders, wanted Christ killed because they saw him as a blasphemer.

Holy Thursday is believed to be the Last Supper of Christ with his disciples before the betrayal by Judas Iscariot. 

Judas agreed to lead the chief priest to Christ and identify him with a kiss on the cheek. In return, he received 30 pieces of silver.

Good Friday is the day that Christ was put on trial, found guilty and was crucified and died. His body was placed in a tomb where he remained until Easter Sunday. His tomb was guarded by soldiers with a large stone covering the entrance.

Easter is believed by Christians of all denominations to be the day of Christ’s resurrection.

An angel appeared to a group of Jesus’ female followers and told them that Christ had risen. 

The women went back to the disciples and while they discussed this event, Christ appeared to them.

For more information on Lent or upcoming Lenten events, call Liedeke of the Catholic Student Center at 736-3752, or call Semrad of the Methodist Student Center at 733-1441.


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