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In Springfield, Catholics Prepare for the Rituals of Ash Wednesday

Jennifer Balaska
Public domain, Used with Permission

Ash Wednesday is this week.  KSMU’s Shannon Noonan spoke with local Catholics about the rituals of Ash Wednesday.

At the O’Reilly Catholic Student Center next to the MSU campus, the Ash Wednesday mass will include traditional hymns and less festive songs of repentance as Catholics usher in the Lenten season.

The color purple will grace the altar and the priest’s attire.

After the homily, the priest will mark the foreheads of worshipers with a cross of ashes, saying, “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Arick Middeke, a campus minister at the Catholic Student Center, says observing the ashes makes worshipers think about their existence.

“It’s that time to step back and realize what’s distracting me from God in my life, what do I put above him in my life, and how can I respond to a call of conversion more closely to him” Middeke said.

The Catholic Student Center holds three Ash Wednesday masses:   at 12:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Catholic Campus Ministry and a mass at 3 p.m. at Drury’s Stone Chapel.

Cyndi Berry, a Catholic convert of 32 years, says she loves the idea of being marked with ashes because it has such a strong message.

She says she tries to use the 40 days of the Lenten season to change her life.

“I think it’s an important symbol and I try not to wipe the ashes off, but leave them there. Kind of as a reminder, who I am and whose I am," Berry said.

Berry also participates in the tradition of trying to abstain from meat and fast from something she enjoys, like television or social media.