Ash Wednesday Marks Beginning of Lent

By LORETTA FULTON

The season of Lent begins Wednesday, March 2, with the traditional Ash Wednesday services, followed by six weeks of reflection, study, and in somes cases, giving up something such as particular food items or bad habits.

But first, its’s time to feast–at least in some traditions. Tuesday, March 1, is Shrove Tuesday, which takes its name from the word “shrive,” meaning “absolve.” It’s the final day before Lent begins. A more familiar name is Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday,” the day that fats are cleaned out of the pantry in preparation for the leaner days of Lent. 

Bishop Michael Sis of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo explains Lent as a penitential season, with sacrifices, but also a time to learn to live a life of abudance by getting rid of things that don’t matter.

“It’s not about perfection,” he said. “It’s about moving in the right direction.”

Locally, pancake suppers and shrimp boils traditionally are held on Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras as a last feast before Lent begins. Historically, pancakes were selected as a way to rid the pantry of ingredients that wouldn’t be allowed during Lent. A shrimp boil is a nod to the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition.

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Reset, 602 Meander St., will have a pancake supper at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Gerhart Hall. Pancake races and pancake flipping contests will be a part of the festivities. The evening will end with a liturgy for burning palms for Ash Wednesday. The church also will host a concert at 12 noon each Wednesday in Lent, except for Ash Wednesday and the Wednesday of Holy Week. The concerts will be in Gerhart Hall. 

St. Paul United Methodist Church is hosting a pancake supper 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 1. 

St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church, 2525 Westview Drive, will add a local flavor by hosting a cheese enchilada fundraiser 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 2. Only take-out meals will be available. Each plate will contain three enchiladas, rice, beans, chips, salsa, salad, dessert, and a drink, all for just $10. 

Ash Wednesday services will be held in a number of Abilene churches. Depending on the denomination, the Ash Wednesday service may include a minister making the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead with ashes and saying, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Most Ash Wednesday services include Holy Communion. 

The final week of Lent is known as Holy Week, which begins on April 10 with Palm Sunday. Good Friday falls on April 15, and Easter Sunday is on April 17. Orthodox Christians, who follow a different calendar from Western Christians, will have to wait a week to celebrate Easter. which will be observed April 24. 

Following are some of the services scheduled locally:

ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI CATHOLIC CHURCH
2525 Westview Drive
7 a.m.– Distribution of Ashes
12:10 p.m.– Mass and Distribution of Ashes
6 p.m.– Distribution of Ashes

SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH
837 Jeanette St.
12 noon
7 p.m.

ST FRANCIS ASSISI CATHOLIC CHURCH
826 Cottonwood St.
8:30 a.m.–Mass with Ashes
12:15 p.m.–Mass with Ashes
6:30 p.m.–Mass with Ashes

ZION LUTHERAN CHURCH
2801 Antilley Road
5 and 6:30 p.m.
Two traditional services with Communion and Imposition of Ashes will be held. A fellowship meal will be served between the two services

GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
1202 S. Pioneer Drive
1 p.m. Imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion

OUR SAVIOR LUTHERAN CHURCH
4933 S. Seventh St.
5:30 p.m.–Pancake and sausage supper
7 p.m.–Ash Wednesday service with Imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion

EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE HEAVENLY REST
602 Meander St. 
7:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist (Chapel)
12 p.m. – Holy Eucharist with Hymns (Nave)
5:30 p.m. – Ash Wednesday Service for Families and Children (Courtyard)
7:30 p.m. – Holy Eucharist with Hymns and Choir (Nave)
All services will include the imposition of ashes.

ST. MARK’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
809 Barrow St. 
6:30 p.m. Wednesday Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist

FIRST CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
400 Orange St. 
6:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday service

ALDERSGATE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

1741 Sayles Blvd. 
6 p.m. Ash Wednesday service
Nursery provided for ages birth through two years

ST. PAUL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
525 Beech St.
6 p.m. Ash Wednesday service

PIONEER DRIVE BAPTIST CHURCH
701 S. Pioneer Drive
6 p.m. gathering in the parlor for a time of worship, reflection, and repentance

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
1333 N. Third St. 
6:15 p.m. Ash Wednesday Service

BROOK HOLLOW CHRISTIAN CHURCH
4606 S. 14th St.
The church will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for people to receive the Imposition of Ashes. “Everyone is invited to come and participate in a prayer journey. There will be several stations set up in the sanctuary with instructions for different kinds of prayer and reflection. You may move through the journey at your own pace. This is a come-and-go event, so come at whatever time your schedule allows, we’ll be here the whole day. This journey would be appropriate to do alone, with your family, or with friends.”

FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
5125 Antilley Road
6 p.m. Ash Wednesday service

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