40 days to Easter
“Those ashes we receive on our forehead remind us everything material has an end, even our material life,” Father Rafael Carballo told the students, staff and families of St. Mary’s Catholic School during Ash Wednesday Mass.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a 40-day period of prayer and fasting, Carballo said. Several other Christian denominations observe the holiday, however the day is very much a Catholic day, he said.
Mass was celebrated in the school’s gymnasium and was open to students and family, as every school Mass is, secretary Lisa Mazur said. Fourth-graders assisted Carballo and Deacon Stuart Neslin with Mass. A student choir, consisting of fifth-through eighth-graders provided hymns, and Zac Nichols led everyone in a Responsorial Psalm.
Near the halfway point of Mass, Carballo and Neslin marked each other’s foreheads with an ash cross, then turned and marked the foreheads of teachers and staff of St. Mary’s. Students then lined up and each received their ashes with their arms crossed and eyes closed.
Mass ended with the Concluding Rites, which are a blessing for the students and congregation.