When Daniela Garcia learned that Ash Wednesday services would be held at the University of Texas at Brownsville, she knew she would attend.
Without a car to travel, Garcia, a 19-year-old sophomore, said she was grateful that services were held on the University of Texas at Brownsville-Texas Southmost College campus.
“Since I don’t have a car, I am appreciating that I can come here and attend Ash Wednesday Mass,” Garcia said shortly before Wednesday’s service. She also had the chance to go to confession.
For the third year in a row, Bishop Daniel E. Flores performed Ash Wednesday services at UTB.
Flores, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, said he was pleased to be able to hold the service on the university campus.
About 100 students, faculty, staff and members of the public attended the services, where Flores reminded all to “say your prayers. You never outgrow that.”
Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, the most important season in the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations. It gives church members an opportunity to give alms, fast and pray as they prepare for the resurrection of Christ.
Flores said Lent provides people with the opportunity to find their way to God because at times in our lives, people tend to get lost. “Ash Wednesday is all about identifying where are we, where am I,” he said.
The bishop said that while the world tends to gauge people on one’s wealth, God looks at people in a different way.
“God doesn’t look at the six figures (salaries of a person). He says, ‘Where is your heart? Do you have time for me?’
“The basic ways to get to God are very simple, but they are not so easy. We have to know ourselves,” Flores added.
During Lent many Christians abstain from certain foods and beverages. Many try to include more religion in their lives.
Yeraldin Ayala, 24, a junior at UTB, said she attended Wednesday services because “I believe in God and this is a preparation for us because he gave his life for us, for our sins.”
Ayala said she plans to abstain from chocolate — something she loves — for the next 40 days, and she plans to attend church more than she already does. “I think I can do this,” she said.
Flores said fasting is a way to know to say “no” to ourselves. “Not everything I want is good for me,” he said. It also gives people time to reflect on the fact that God should be more important in our lives.
Kassandra Ayala, 18, said observing Ash Wednesday and Lent provides her with the opportunity to observe her religion and her “strong faith in God.” Ayala, a freshman, said she asked her professor to excuse her from class so she could attend Wednesday’s services.
Kassandra Ayala said she will try to spend less time with her boyfriend and more time with her family during Lent. She also plans to give up “hot sauce,” which is something that she eats all the time, she said.