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Ash Wednesday begins Lenten observances

Pastor Ron Miller places ashes on the head of a worshipper. People received the imposition of ashes at Trinity Lutheran Church in State College, Wednesday, February 18, 2015 for Ash Wednesday.
Pastor Ron Miller places ashes on the head of a worshipper. People received the imposition of ashes at Trinity Lutheran Church in State College, Wednesday, February 18, 2015 for Ash Wednesday. CDT photo

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Rev. Ron Miller, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Patton Township, dipped a thumb into a small cup of ashes and traced a black cross on the forehead of each person who stood before him.

“With this we begin the season of Lent, the season of preparation,” Miller said.

For some, Lent is a kind of mystery, a somber few weeks leading up to Easter on April 5.

But for others, it is a time of affirmation.

“Ash Wednesday reminds us of our sin, but it also reminds us of God’s grace,” Miller said.

In some Christian traditions, it is a 40-day reflection on faith, a renewal of spirit and a commitment to discipline. Catholics routinely abstain from meat on Fridays. Other Lenten observers, including Anglicans, Episcopalians and Lutherans, may give something up for those weeks, while others strive to do something more.

Lenten rituals will continue for the next seven weeks.

One tasty tradition will be the fish dinners that spring up as fundraisers and social events at churches, fire halls and more.

Columbia Fire Company in Osceola Mills starts its annual rite of weekly meals from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, with a price tag of $10 for adults and $6.50 for kids. Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Grays Woods will serve its dinner from 4:30-7 p.m. for $10.

“This is our first fish dinner because we now have a big facility where we can handle it. Ours is unique because it’s not fried,” said Carol Pioli, of Good Shepherd’s parish council. The dinner will be held in the new Agape Hall and will feature seasoned flounder roasted with thyme and wrapped in parchment paper. (Don’t worry. Children can still get macaroni and cheese.)

Trinity will also do a fish dinner on Fridays in March only, but theirs is less about fundraising than it is about fellowship for the 130 or so people who attend church weekly.

Miller, who serves as “chief cook but not bottle washer” for the dinners, said his congregation borrows the traditionally Catholic event because it is so familiar.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” he said.

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