Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period before Easter.
“It is a time when we recognize we are in need of God’s mercy,” said Carmen Roebke, pastoral associate for Christian formation at the University Parish Newman Center. “We mark that time by recognizing our sin because God is the creator. The ashes we receive is a symbol of our private and public sorrow.”
Ash Wednesday is always six and a half weeks before Easter, Roebke said, and the Lenten period is a time of abstinence and fasting.
People avoid meat on Fridays and try to give something up or do something during the 40-day period to try and improve their lives, she said.
Ash Wednesday is a simple ritual, Roebke said. A person will come up to the altar and a minister will put the sign of the cross in ashes on his or her forehead.
“It is a sign of our penitence – our attempts to try to make it right and acknowledge our failures.”
The ashes are from palm fronds used on Palm Sunday from the previous year. Roebke said the cross is worn on the forehead until it fades off.
“It is a service that even people who struggle with their faith attend,” she said.
For students interested in attending an Ash Wednesday service, the University Parish Newman Center will have its services at 7 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. tomorrow.
The United Christian Ministries will be holding an informal Protestant Ash Wednesday Service at 8 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Kent.
Contact religion reporter Heather Scarlett at [email protected]