MEDINA — Parishioners gathered at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church to celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
“Lent is a time when we kind of throw a light switch on,” the Rev. Tony Sebja said.
The days leading up to Easter are observed as a time for fasting, donating to those less fortunate and giving up unnecessary things in life.
“Ash Wednesday begins the 40 days of Lent, and what is different about Mass on Ash Wednesday is that you have the distribution of the ashes after the homily,” Sebja explained after celebrating Mass.
During the service, Sebja blessed ashes, which then were placed as a cross on parishoners’ foreheads.
“It is a Lenten tradition,” Medina resident Tom Bica said after receiving ashes. “It just reminds us of ashes to ashes. We are all at one time going to return to ashes. It sort of grounds us in our faith and it is a time for fasting and doing good deeds and almsgiving.”
Almsgiving is helping those less fortunate and doing other charitable work.
“Praying, fasting and the giving of alms is the three-fold path to holiness,” Sebja said.
Sebja said Mass during the Lenten period — representing Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness — differs from other times of the year.
“We don’t sing ‘Alleluia’ for 40 days and we don’t sing a ‘Gloria,’ so the Mass is different through the 40 days,” he said.
St. Francis Xavier Church, 606 E. Washington St., also will host the musical passion play “Tetelestai” Feb 23-25 as part of its Lenten activities.
For more information, visit sfxmedina.com/parish.
Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.