Lent is a time of repentance focusing on prayer, fasting and almsgiving: ‘This whole love story between God and Man’

Fr. Bill Meininger of St. Mary’s of the Lake in Culver welcomes all to participate in Ash Wednesday. Though some sacraments are available only to Catholics, the receiving of ashes on one’s forehead is considered a ‘sacramental’ and all are welcome to join.
Jamie Fleury
Staff Writer

Fr. Bill Meininger who officiates at St. Mary’s of the Lake in Culver and at the Culver Academies shared that lent is a time of repentance focusing on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and explored the history of the traditions held by Christians, including both the Catholic and Protestant traditions.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and leads up to Easter.


Fr. Bill explained, “Lent is a season of 40 days and 40 nights. Six weeks is the length of the season. It’s focused primarily around on repentance, of course, as we are preparing for the end of Lent we will celebrate the Sacred Paschal Triduum which is the three most holy days of the calendar year in the church; Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and then of course the great vigil of Easter on Holy Saturday which goes into Easter Sunday when we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord.”

Fr. Bill shared what repentance means, “In the period before that, we spend those 6 weeks preparing for that by really focusing on personal conversion of soul. Which literally means a turning away from sin and a turning toward the Lord.”

Ash Wednesday

Fr. Bill described Ash Wednesday, “We carry Lent out through a variety of practices. One of the most well known and visually recognizable practices is Ash Wednesday which kicks off the Lenten season in the western church, and western Christianity.”

He explained the significance of the ashes, “In the Catholic Tradition we celebrate mass on that day. When we don’t have mass we do have a service. Ashes are spread on the forehead. In doing that the priest will say, ‘Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return’. It’s a call to repent. To turn toward the Lord. To remember how little we are before the Lord.”

Fr. Bill shared enthusiastically, “He loves us greatly! He gave His life for us. It’s a call to recognize that and live in accordance with that.”

Fr. Bill shared some of the history of the tradition, “The tradition of the ashes stems from the Jewish tradition. In our Judeo-Christian tradition there was many mention in the Old Testament of repenting in sackcloth and ashes. The practice that our Lord refers to also in the gospel of Mark, and speaks of the use of ashes in repentance. So, we have carried on that tradition. It has taken on different forms throughout the history of the church.”

Fr. Bill noted, “I was doing some reading about it as I prepared myself for the season. The prayers we use for the blessing of the ashes stem all the way back to the 8th century, the 700’s. But the practice of ashes and lenten penance date all the way back to the second and third centuries. It’s really a unique time in the church.”

Read more about this in Tuesday's edition of the Pilot News. Call 574-936-3101 to subscribe.