ROCKFORD—“The ‘I’ in Christ” is this year’s overall theme at the Cathedral of St. Peter School, here, and the theme has been expanded to include Lent.
Principal James Burns said that the theme is geared to remind students to act more like Jesus.
At the school’s Ash Wednesday Mass on March 1, student representatives processed up at the offertory and placed pages in a basket. The basket then was placed before the altar.
Those pages listed students’ individual plans for being like Christ during Lent.
“It may be something they give up,” Principal Burns said, “or what (they plan) to do for others.”
Bishop David Malloy celebrated the Mass, his fourth year of doing so for the school and other parishioners attending the 8:30 a.m. service.
He called the Mass a way for them all to start Lent “on a run,” in preparation for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and finally Easter Sunday six weeks away.
“Our life in Christ,” he added, includes the “sacrifices I’m going to do (in Lent) … to get ready” for the great time of our own resurrection.
The use of ashes, Bishop Malloy said, was not something invented by the Church out of nowhere. Using ashes goes back to the Old Testament, including King David, he said.
Three purposes for the ashes include “to remind us each one of us is a sinner,” he said. We all need to fight becoming too accustomed to sin, he added.
Ashes remind us also that when we die, we return to ashes.
And people have long gathered on Ash Wednesday “so they would pray for one another,” the bishop said.
Bishop Malloy said he hoped all the students, especially students in older grades, would do a penance, perhaps giving something up, along with doing acts of charity and praying more in Lent.
He asked students for particular prayers — recommending one each day in each classroom during Lent — for all the people who will be going to confession during this holy season.
“Wear those ashes proudly all day,” he told the youngsters. “That’s how you can witness to Christ on this day.”