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The Student News Site of St Joseph's Academy

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The Voice

The Student News Site of St Joseph's Academy

The Voice

Leaping into Lent

Emily Rines
A handmade palm leaf cross from Palm Sunday reminds Catholics of the Lenten season.

Starting with Ash Wednesday on February 14th, ashes in the shape of crosses will be marked on Catholics’ foreheads worldwide.  This liturgical season, full of repentance, fasting, and praying, is an essential preparation for Easter when Jesus rises from the dead.  Lent occurs for forty days—excluding Sundays—stemming from the forty days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the Devil.  

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics go to Mass to receive ashes that the priest smears on everyone’s foreheads in the shape of a cross.  These ashes were created from the palm leaves of the previous Palm Sunday Mass.  The ashes symbolize an opportunity to repent for the sins that one has committed.  They also remind people of their mortality because the priest says, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  This statement is said as a person receives the ashes in the shape of a cross.

These ashes do more than just symbolize repentance and mortality, though.  They also come from a long history, stemming from the Old Testament.  In the Bible, they were a sign of penance and mourning.  The Bible tells of many Biblical people sitting in ashes to express their sadness, rolling in ashes to show their petitions to the Lord, and other things.  Because of this, the Catholic Church decided to use ashes on Ash Wednesday to bring forth the same type of feelings that the Bible showed.

A woman with ashes in the shape of a cross reminds Catholics to repent and pray during the Lenten season.

After Ash Wednesday, Catholics have many other opportunities to immerse themselves in the Lenten season.  Many churches hold the Stations of the Cross, in which Catholics are invited to take part in remembering the steps that Jesus took leading up until his crucifixion.  This practice gives Catholics a chance to familiarize themselves with what it felt like to be there during the time Jesus would die on the cross.

Junior Sadie Neff uses Lent and the Stations of the Cross to grow closer to God.

“I love going through the season of Lent because it makes me feel grateful for what I have and what Jesus did for us long ago,” Sadie said.

Additionally, many churches host Fish Fries on Friday nights, where many can purchase fried fish and sides to observe the rule of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent.  Going to a Fish Fry is also a way to build a community with the people in your parish.  Fish Fries give people the opportunity to catch up with one another, as well as share in the experience of Lent.

Still, other people choose just to give up something for Lent.  The things that people prefer to give up can be very different.  Some might give up their favorite candy, while others could choose to give up social media.  Giving up these things for the Lenten season helps to restart one’s relationship with God by freeing up more of your time to spend with Him.

Junior Yelena Williams is considering what she will give up for Lent.

“For Lent this year, I plan on giving up drinking a can of soda daily,” Yelena said.

Yelena and multitudes of Catholics worldwide will commence their 2024 Lenten journeys with an open heart and mind to God.  From Biblical stories with ashes to Fish Fries, Lent offers everyone a new opportunity to gain spiritual insight and become closer to God.

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About the Contributor
Emily Rines
Emily Rines, Print Layout Editor
Emily Rines is a junior at St. Joe, and is a Print Layout Editor for The Voice this year.  At school, Emily is a part of National Honors Society, and editor for The Echo (yearbook), Angel Ambassadors, Beta Chi Pi, Mu Alpha Theta, and The Literati.  Outside of school, Emily loves to play basketball, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.