Ash Wednesday: Christians begin the Lenten journey toward Easter

Several local churches offer “drive-thru” ashes

Ash Wednesday is a popular day in the Catholic Church's liturgical calendar that draws large numbers of the faithful to area churches, said Judy Riopelle, director of faith formation at St. Francis Church. The drive thru is accessible from 12 Mile Road, and motorists can enter from one of two driveways, receive their ashes, and then exit back on to 12 Mile Road.

"We had a lot of people who expressed authentic gratitude with us when we were standing on the curb with them", Meech said.

Mardi Gras is the day of indulgence preceding the more somber Lenten season which starts with Ash Wednesday.

This year St. Francis is adding extra times for the distribution of ashes "to make it convenient for anyone who would like to mark the beginning of Lent with us", she said.

The holiday, which date changes every year, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is marked with a number of unique traditions, including painting eggs and Easter egg hunts. "As weird as it feels, it is very appropriate for Ash Wednesday to fall on Valentine's Day".

In the Kansas City Kansas Archdiocese, married couples were invited to join in an annual World Marriage Day celebration a few days before Valentine's Day - even if they might not be able to have that steak dinner with wine and desserts on Wednesday. They are looking forward to the day of hearts.

Brydon said that while each church has a unique objective, they're all in it together and he enjoys seeing the unity.

"We stand honestly before God and say, 'You are God and I am not".

Enberg, who died in December at 82, was famous for using that expression whenever a spectacular or freakish play occurred.

For Catholics, abstaining from meat is still a requirement. The Catholic Church and a few other Christian denominations observe the occasion in fasting, abstinence, and prayer. During the weekends when friends were preoccupied with spouses, kids or boyfriends, I would occasionally take myself to Westminster Cathedral for some spiritual pampering.

The journey of Lent can be hard - a time of repentance, of giving up things that tie us to this world and looking instead to the life and teachings of Jesus. This is a symbol of death and remembering bad things that we have done, and is where the day gets its name from. It works by reminding you of your true goal in life every time that you practice it. "The people in this town are so full of love and romance", Merkel said. Mix it with Shrove Tuesday, that Eve-of-Lent bacchanalia meant to be a last blast before the fasting begins. Immediately following his baptism, Jesus went to the desert and prayed and fasted for 40 days.

The history of Valentine's Day-and the story of its patron saint-is somewhat unclear and the stories are varied. In so doing, I am reminded that I depend on God, not on things.

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