Season of Repentance: Bishop celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass on UTRGV campus - Brownsville Herald: Local News

Season of Repentance: Bishop celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass on UTRGV campus

By GARY LONG Staff Writer | Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2019 9:31 am

The purpose of Ash Wednesday is to “stand up before the Lord and show ourselves the way we are, authentically ... to show him ‘these are my sins, these are my difficulties,’” and to try to improve, Mario Aviles the auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville said during noon Mass in observance of the holy day.

Christians across the Rio Grande Valley and around the world observed a holy day of prayer, fasting and repentance on Wednesday at the opening of the Lenten season. Lent is a 40-day period meant to mirror the 40 days Jesus Christ spent in the desert being tempted by the devil and preparing himself to take up his cross and be crucified.

Symbolically Catholics receive ashes fashioned to form a cross on their foreheads to signify Christ’s suffering.

“ You’re not doing it for anybody else except yourself,” Aviles said during the Mass he celebrated in El Gran Salon in the Student Union of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley-Brownsville. “We are just standing before him and saying ‘Lord this is who I am, these are my sins, these are my shortcomings, these are my transgressions.’”

Aviles said he favors the second meaning recited as the ashes are applied, “remember you are dust and to dust you will return.” The first is “repent and believe in God.”

“ I like the second meaning because our world is telling us we are the star, and the second one puts us in our place,” he said. “It’s not about us, it’s about what the Lord wants for us.”

He said rather than strive for material things like a new car or the latest, greatest cell phone, the message of Lent is that we should make sure “everything we do in this world we do for others, that we do what’s going to stay with us.”

He urged the young people at the Mass to enjoy life but also work to help others, asking them not to be afraid to do what’s right.

The Mass was organized by the the Catholic Campus Ministry and the Brownsville Diocese’s Newman Catholic Student Center on the UTRGV Brownsville campus.

Ervin Vilchis, a researcher at the UTRGV Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy, attended. He said he felt an admonition “to help the community in a good way ... to be generous with others, especially with those that really need it.”

Johnny Diaz, a CCM member, said he felt called to repentance and to work on a change of heart over the next 40 days.

He said he had already gotten a head start on the task during the recently concluded Advent season.

glong@brownsvilleherald.com