Ash Wednesday Observed in Two Services at St. Mary’s Feb. 13

Stations of the Cross begin Fridays during Lent

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church has invited all members of the community to participate in Ash Wednesday observances, Feb. 13, at the church, located in the heart of historic Cold Spring. The services, at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., include dispensing of ashes, made from dried palms kept from those distributed fresh on Palm Sunday 2012.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time of fasting, spiritual reflection, and self-denial — such as giving up luxuries or favorite foods or activities — for 40 days before Easter, which occurs on March 31 this year. Christians have observed Ash Wednesday from at least the 10th century, or for 1,000 years or more. In lasting 40 days, Lent mirrors the 40 days of asceticism and prayer that, according to the gospels, Christ spent alone in the wilderness, before taking up public ministry. The ashes both recall the ashes used in ancient days as a sign of penance and exemplify the temporality of life.

Carrying on another Lenten tradition, St. Mary’s will conduct the Stations of the Cross, every Friday evening at 6 p.m., beginning on Friday, Feb. 15, through March 29. Depicted in a series of old prints intermittently placed on the interior church walls, the 14 stations mark moments in Christ’s suffering and crucifixion. In a sense, they serve as “way stations” on a pilgrimage.

Participants in Stations of the Cross devotions proceed as a group from station to station, praying aloud briefly at each. The practice developed in ancient Israel, as early Christians walked from site to site on the route Christ reportedly followed on the way to Calvary and death. As Christianity spread far beyond the Middle East, the devotion continued, but inside churches instead of in the streets of Jerusalem.

St. Mary’s also will host a Pancake Supper, open to the community, on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Parish Hall. (Reservations are requested. For information, visit stmaryscoldspring.org.) Pancake suppers are another tradition ushering in Lent. On Sunday, Feb. 10, the church hosts a Valentine’s Day bake sale, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. (after the 10:30 liturgy) to 12:30 p.m.

St. Mary’s is located in Cold Spring at 1 Chestnut St., by the traffic light — the intersection of Route 9D (Chestnut Street-Morris Avenue) and Route 301 (Main Street).

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