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Ashes To Ashes

Church leaders express views on Ash Wednesday

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church will hold various services in English and Spanish for Ash Wednesday. First Baptist Church of Morrow will hold a service at 6 p.m.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church will hold various services in English and Spanish for Ash Wednesday. First Baptist Church of Morrow will hold a service at 6 p.m.

Though Ash Wednesday is largely known to be recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, other denominations also acknowledge the occasion.

The religious event, this year, falls on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Rev. David Tew, of the First Baptist Church of Morrow, said other religious groups, such as Lutherans, Episcopalians, and some Presbyterians, celebrate the religious day, which is known as the traditional first day of Lent, which lasts 40 days, and excludes Sundays.

He said, although some Baptists may not be as ardent about Ash Wednesday as others, his congregation follows the traditional Christian calendar. The calendar “provides us with a good balance of what we are doing here in the year,” he said.

The First Baptist Church of Morrow will hold its Ash Wednesday services on Feb. 22, at 6 p.m., at 1647 Lake Harbin Road in Morrow. The nearest cross street is Murphy Drive.

On Ash Wednesday, he said, his congregation focuses on commitment, forgiveness and the preparation for Lent. Tew said the ashes that are placed on a person’s forehead derive from the palms that were used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday mass. The palms are burned, combined with a little oil.

He said he gives people an option, whether they want a cross, or a dot on their forehead. “It depends on what the individual wants,” he said.

The distributor of the ashes, he said, does not say anything to the individual receiving it.

For Baptists, those who sport the ashes on their foreheads, express their repentance and commitment of the coming Lenten days, he added.

Tew said Baptists are not obligated to celebrate Ash Wednesday, and it’s important for each Baptist to determine his or her own form of worship.

The pastor believes the only difference between the worship of Baptists and Catholics is the formality of the ceremony. He said Baptists are less formal in the way the religious occasion is recognized, compared to Catholics.

Father Michael Kolodziej, of St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church, said for Catholics, Ash Wednesday is also the beginning of Lent, but it’s also a renewal time for the individual during the 40 days of Lent. The renewal time, he said, is composed of prayer, sacrifice and charity.

According to the Jonesboro Catholic church’s web site –– www.st.philipbenizi.org –– the church will hold its Ash Wednesday English mass on Feb. 22, at 7:15 a.m., 8:30 a.m., noon, and 5:45 p.m., at 591 Flint River Road. The nearest cross street is Kaden Drive.

Spanish mass will be held at 1:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.

He said most Catholics prepare for Ash Wednesday through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also known as confession. The church provides an area for this, and conducts confessions on Saturdays, by appointment.

The priest said the 40 days of Lent for Catholics symbolize Jesus’ time in the desert for 40 days, where he was tempted by the devil, as well as the Israelites who wandered the desert for the same amount of time. Both of these stories are in the Gospel.

“Catholics receive the ashes in a symbol of a cross ... It’s a symbol of Christianity that they are the followers of Jesus,” he stressed.

According to Catholic.net’s web site –– www.catholic.net –– while the priest distributes the ashes on an individual, he usually says, “Remember man, thou art but dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Kolodziej said the palms from last year’s Palm Sunday mass are blessed before they are converted to ashes.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the preparation of the great feast of Easter, when Christ was raised from the dead, he said.

For more information about the services, call St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church at (770) 478-0178, or First Baptist Church of Morrow at (770) 961-9270.