The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 10, 2013

For area faithful, Ash Wednesday marks beginning of Lenten season

JOHNSTOWN — Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations, begins Wednesday in preparation for Easter.

Catholics often view the six-week Lenten period as a time of reflection and self-sacrifice.

The Rev. William E. Rosenbaum, pastor of St. Clement Roman Catholic Church in Upper Yoder Township, said the main purposes of Lent are preparing the faithful for a holy Easter and preparing those candidates who will be be welcomed into the Catholic faith through baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.

He said sacrificing during Lent is one way for the faithful to sacrifice as Jesus did, and to  improve self-discipline.

By observing the 40 days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for 40 days.

“Sacrifice doesn’t necessarily mean giving something up,” Rosenbaum said. “People could increase their prayer life, attend a daily Mass, pray the Stations of the Cross at home  or do charitable acts to help the needy.”

Fasting also is a part of Lent, as Catholics are to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, and the faithful fast by eating only one large meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Rosenbaum’s message to his congregation on Ash Wednesday will be to take time to embark on a Lenten journey that will bring them closer to God.

As people deliberate past failings or faults, Lent offers them a time to turn those imperfections around to become better followers of Jesus Christ.

Although the church doesn’t require the faithful to attend Ash Wednesday services, most Roman Catholics make the effort to receive ashes.

“I would estimate 90 percent of (practicing) Catholics take part because they see this as an external sign of what’s happening on the inside, such as repenting sins and helping others,” Rosenbaum said.

The ashes symbolize man’s mortality, and since no one is going to live forever, it also symbolizes man’s return to dust.

The six weeks of Lent lead up to the Easter Triduum, which begins on Holy Thursday with the  Mass of the Lord’s Supper, is continued through Good Friday with the celebration of the passion of the Lord and on Holy Saturday reaches its high point with the Easter vigil.

The Rev. John D. Byrnes, pastor of St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church in Cresson, said the word Lent means springtime, which translates into a spiritual rebirth to begin again to walk the way of the Cross.

“People sometimes miss the point of giving something up,” Byrnes said. “Giving something up in isolation is not the intent, but it’s a time for prayer, fasting and giving of alms to others.”    

He said the things that people concentrate on during Lent are the same things that people should be doing every day.

Other Christian faiths observe Ash Wednesday and reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Larry Rowe, pastor of First United Methodist Church, will conduct a joint Ash Wednesday service with the Johnstown United Methodist Parish Inc. (JUMP). The ministry is comprised of four Johns-town churches –  First United Methodist, Franklin Street United Methodist, Trinity Asbury United Methodist and Trinity United Methodist.

The service will be held at

7 p.m. Wednesday at First United Church at 436 Vine St. in downtown Johnstown.

Rowe called Lent a reflective season, not a sad time. He said that’s because the faithful believe what Christ has accomplished for them and what they are preparing to celebrate.

“Though we have crash landed, God through Jesus, exchanges our sins with his righteousness,” Rowe said.

The Rev. Terry Knipple, pastor of Franklin Street United Methodist Church, will deliver the message.

Rowe extends an invitation to take part in the Lenten discipline, which will include disposition of ashes, scripture readings, hymns, confession of sins and acceptance of God’s pardon.

“As Methodists, we focus on being grateful for the gift of love given to us in Christ,” Rowe said. “We encourage to live faithfully as ambassadors; witnessing to others so they will be doubly blessed as well.”

The Very Rev. Protopresbyter Frank Miloro of Christ the Saviour Cathedral, 300 Garfield St. in the West End section of Johns-  town, said four successive Sundays are used to introduce a Lenten mindset to the faithful.

They are: Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, Sunday of the Prodigal Son, Meatfast Sunday and finally Cheesefast Sunday.

“The very next day after Cheesefast Sunday is the first day of Lent, which is always a Monday,” Miloro said. “The Gospel lessons for those four Sundays deliver the theme of Lent – humility, forgiveness, charity, fasting and prayer. “

This year, the first day of Orthodox Lent is March 18, and the time between the Western and Eastern observances of Easter is five weeks difference this year.

“The strict fasting discipline for Lent is the denial of all meat and dairy products in one’s diet for 40 days plus Holy Week,” Miloro said. “Some people will not follow the strict rules, but rather a lesser fast.”

The infirm, aged or sick are exempted from a strict fast and encouraged to fast the best they can.

The Lenten fast is broken with the reception of Communion at the Easter Liturgy.

“Fasting ceases, and feasting begins with the eating of foods that were not eaten during Lent,” Miloro said. “My personal recommendation to my people is that they set as strict a rule of fasting as they can, and then stay with it because the results are spiritually rewarding.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads