Students ‘run the race’ at Ash Wednesday Mass

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Alexandra Diaz

Father Steve sets up the race between an eighth and fourth grader to visualize the need to stay close to God.

Rachel Anderson, Sophomore Section Editor

On the day before Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday, February 13, Academy students observed the beginning of the Lenten season here at Academy with a school-wide Mass and distribution of ashes. Students and faculty welcomed the time to collect their thoughts in preparation for this 40-day period of prayer and fasting.

AHN President Mr. Art Raimo centered on the purpose of Lent. “It really is an individual journey during lent, that each of us takes, asking ourselves how I am going to be different, how I am going to be better, what  I am going to do during these 40 days to make even small changes in my life?”

During the homily, Father Steve Ryan SDB of Mary, Help of Christians Parish called on participants from the audience to better explain this journey. “We have this race in life to get to heaven.”

To help students visualize this race, Father Steve called on an eighth grade boy and a fourth grade girl to run down the aisle to the altar. As expected, the older, taller eighth grader won. However, when Father gave him a heavy backpack to wear to run the race a second time, the eighth grader fell behind the fourth grader in the race.

When the race was over,  Father Steve opened the backpack to show a stack of heavy weights that had made the bag heavier and the race slower for the older and bigger student. Father symbolized these weights as sins and omissions that hold humans back in life. “These sins such as laziness, greed, lust, anger, and envy are all things that distance us from God.”

Father Steve’s parting advice was to that no matter how hard and long the race of life is, the weight of sin keep humans from the opportunities that they can all have with God’s help if they stay close to him in prayer and actions.

The opportunity for Academy high school students to follow Father Steve’s advice came on Tuesday, February 19, when he returned along with 10 other area priests to offer the sacrament of Reconciliation.