Ash Wednesday begins 40 days of Lent

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) - The Mardi Gras season is over and Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lenten season for Christians throughout the world.  For some it's just a time to eat more seafood, but others will try to make it a time of increased prayer, fasting and giving to the poor.

Churches are filled with Christians this day where the faithful come to receive ashes-- an ancient practice when people are reminded that this life is not forever and they hear the somber words, "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return."

Hundreds filled the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception where mass was celebrated by Bishop Glen John Provost. Monsignor Daniel Torres of the Diocese of Lake Charles explains ashes are also a reminder of the growth that can occur when one dies to self. "As Christians we're called to reflect on our lives, call to mind our sinfulness, and in these forty days and forty nights to make atonement for our sinfulness and to pray for the healing of the world."

Here at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd the faithful came as well to begin the Lenten season with prayer and ashes. Father Jack Myers says Lent can be a time of spiritual transformation. "When you repent you say, 'Okay, what am I doing, or what am I not doing that's keeping a barrier between me and God. And it usually has something to do with ourselves and our sin."

While many people give up something for Lent, religious leaders suggest such efforts be directed at helping others or pursuing a deeper spirituality. Says Father Myers, "Getting rid of distractions is good or adding something new that will bring you closer into the presence of God. Reading scripture more regularly, spending more time in quiet."

And so, Christians begin Lent--a journey of prayer, fasting and giving to the poor all the while looking forward to the joy of Easter.

There are special Lenten programs at various churches.  The Stations of the Cross will be held each Friday in Let at 1:30 p.m. at the St. Charles Retreat Center, except for March 18th.  Weather permitting, outdoor stations will be used.

There is also a Lenten Morning of Reflection Tuesday, April 12 at the Retreat Center when Father Keith Pellerin will present "From Hosannas of Palm Sunday to the Hallelujahs of Resurrection."  The cost is $15.  To reserve your place send check to St. Charles Center to Ann Romero, 949 Terry Lane, Lake Charles, La. 70605

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd has announced several special events scheduled:

Lenten series:   When God's People Pray with Jim Cymbala and the Rev. Jack Myers, Rector of the church.  It's Wednesdays during Lent.  6:00 Simple Supper followed by program until 7:30.

Altar of Repose Vigil - A recreation of the Garden of Gethsemane in the Chapel.  On the Thursday night before He as crucified, Jesus took his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  He wanted their companionship and prayers in these last moments of his ministry.  Follow the 7:00 Maundy Thursday service, the remaining consecrated elements will be taken to the Chapel of the Resurrection and placed in "a garden" where they will reside until the noon Good Friday service.  The garden will be a special place of plants, candles and quiet music.  In response to our Lord's question to Peter, we ask that you sign–up and come sit, watch with our Lord for one hour during the night and the following morning.  Security will be provided.  Come watch and pray and prepare for the resurrection!

Labyrinth Walk - A prayer walk of a unicursal design.  A metaphor for wholeness, using this ancient symbol, the labyrinth, relating to our wholeness, allows us to participate in this meditative experience, walking in quiet prayer.  The labyrinth using the "imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path". We walk within a sacred space allowing for quiet reflection.  Music, surrounding candle light and candle altars enhance this vigil experience.  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 (6:00 - 8:00 pm)  Thursday, April 21, 2011 (8:00 pm until Noon) Friday, April 22, 2011.  Tuesday, May 17, 2011 (6:00 pm - 8:00 pm)

Tuesday, April 26, Easter Lilies are taken from the sanctuary and delivered by parishioners to those unable to attend services during Holy Week.  Sign up to deliver in Hardtner Hall.

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