Newman Center observes Ash Wednesday, Lent


Junior aeronautics major Taylor Robinson receives ashes on his forehead from Fr. Steven Agostino during the evening Ash Wednesday mass at the Newman Center on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.

Skye McEowen

On a snowy Ash Wednesday, worshippers flocked to the University Parish Newman Center to receive their symbolic crosses and have mass. They also began a season of prayer and penance, sitting before Father Steve Agostino in the pews.

“When you sit up front, you get the better ashes,” Agostino said.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent. Children, students and members of the community attended the mass in order to celebrate and observe the holiday.

Ash Wednesday gets its name because ashes are a symbol of penance in the Catholic faith. The ashes, which come from the burned palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service, are placed in the shape of a cross on worshipper’s forehead — a visual sign of humility and sacrifice.

With four masses during the day, the Newman Center saw hundreds of worshippers and reminds them that Lent is here.

KSU students celebrate Ash Wednesday from on Vimeo.

“So today we pray, we fast, we give alms. At least, we focus on those disciplines and practice them throughout the season of Lent,” Agostino said.

Lent, the 40 days before Easter, excluding Sundays, is known as a time of prayer, alms and sacrifice. Lent is also understood as a time where  worshippers give something up or makes a change to their lifestyle.

For example, Vanessa Earp, a faculty member at the University Library, said she is giving up Facebook and shopping, while Emily Radak, a junior speech pathology major, said she is giving up one hour of Netflix to read the Bible.

However, Lent means more than just giving up a luxury for the sake of tradition.

“It’s a sign for me to stop and reexamine my life,” Earp said.

Mary Lynn Delfino, pastoral associate for campus ministry, said Lent can bring one closer to God.

“Easter is the highest point of the Christian calendar,” she said. “And Lent prepares us for that.”

For millennials, Ash Wednesday is considered the most popular time to attend mass, as it is something they have grown up doing ever since they were little, Earp said.

“One (reason) would be tradition,” Delfino said. “Ashes are a very tangible sign that we are Christian, and millennials like tangible signs. I also think Lent provides a time for renewal.”

Overall, Ash Wednesday is only a beginning to a significant season for many members of the Christian faith, as it is a time for prayer and penance.

“Lent invites us to take a step back,” Delfino said.

While many prepare for the season, it starts with the ashes to signify a unity among the community.

“So we are marked with ashes, not to show others we are fasting, but instead to remind others that we as Christians and Catholics are in this together,” Agostino said.

Contact Skye McEowen at [email protected].