The Catholic Newman Center in Kirksville was filled up today as many people showed up to be blessed by having ashes being shaped in the sign of the cross on their foreheads.
For many Christianity religions across the United States and the world, this marks Ash Wednesday, a day that marks the beginning of the 40 days season of Lent.
"Lent is designed to have us give up some way of acting or someway of thinking to help us change the way we are to help us draw closer to God," said Father Bill Kottenstette of The Catholic Newman Center. During these next 40 days of Lent, people give up things in their personal lives to draw more attention towards giving back and doing things for the greater good. "Prayer, almsgiving, and fasting are the three things they talk about a lot in the Scriptures. It's always good to say an extra prayer or pray for a longer period of time. For fasting, it's a good thing to do for lent because it makes us aware how well fed we are when many in the world are starving. With almsgiving, many people give back to their community or give to a charity. It's something great to do to help out other people," Kottenstette said.
But whatever you are planning to give up for the next 40 days Father Bill Kottenstette says there is a deeper meaning to this Lent season.
"We need to remind ourselves of who we are. If we don't remind ourselves regularly, we'll forget who we are. That reminder is we are dust,?? Kottenstette said. ??So we mark ourselves today and we live that out of the next 40 days to help us remember that we are creatures created by God in his image. We must learn and remind ourselves we are the children of God"
Lent lasts until Palm Sunday which starts Holy Week and runs until Easter Sunday which falls this year on Sunday April 8th.
Now not all Christian churches observe Ash Wednesday or Lent. They are mostly observed by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian denominations, and also by Roman Catholics.
Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent during the 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Orthodox Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begin on Monday and Ash Wednesday is not observed. Orthodox Easter is on Sunday April 15th.