Ash Wednesday marks start of Lenten season

Pat Jarrett

More than 250 sets of fingers lightly dropped in the marble bowl, then touched four times on nearly everyone who entered the chapel, making the sign of the cross.

This same sign would be repeated on every forehead in black ash from burned, 11-month-old palm leaves.

It was standing-room only at the Newman Center during the 7 p.m. Ash Wednesday mass, a service that signals the start of the 40-day Lent season.

“May you turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel,” Father John Jerek said every time he applied the black ash with his thumb.

Jerek said afterward that this “intense season” brings a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in attendance. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter.

Many Christians see Lent as a time for sacrifice.

“Lent is a time to reflect on all the things Jesus sacrificed for us,” said junior English major Kathy Matas.

Senior accounting major Manny Ontiveros said his sacrifice doesn’t compare to the sacrifices of Jesus Christ.

For this Lent, Ontiveros said he is not drinking for 40 days.

“My parents always said you weren’t supposed to drink during Lent,” he said. “This is a time for me to give up something because Jesus gave up for us.”

Kent State alumnus Bill Dunick said this was the “most holy” day on the Catholic calendar. He said this is a time to reflect on one’s life and sins.

“The crosses on our foreheads (show) that we are forgiven and loved,” Jerek said.

Contact religion reporter Pat Jarrett at [email protected].