LEWISTON — Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent.

For Catholics, this is a time of spiritually intense preparation for Easter, according to the Rev. Seamus Griesbach, chaplain at Saint Dominic Academy.

During the 46 days of Lent, Catholics focus in three ways on their relationships with God: prayer, works of charity and sacrifice.

We often hear, “What are you giving up for Lent?” It used to be meat on Fridays.

“Now it’s Facebook on Fridays,” Griesbach said with a smile.

Some sacrifice is helpful not because things of this world are bad, Griesbach said, but doing without something can help put “first things first, being closer to God, being closer to neighbors. That’s the hope, to make sure that other things aren’t getting in the way of those relationships.”

A big part of Lent, he tells students, is giving, as in, “What can they do for others?” 

Celebrating Valentine’s Day a day early — Tuesday — worked well for the school.

“We don’t want to pass over Valentine’s Day,” Griesbach said. “It’s a wonderful celebration.”

Observing Valentine’s Day just before Ash Wednesday “is a wonderful sendoff, getting us ready for Lent.”

Area Ash Wednesday Services

Auburn, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish: Sacred Heart Church, 8 Sacred Heart Place, 7 a.m. and noon. At St. Philip Church, 2365 Turner Road, 6 p.m.

Lewiston, Prince of Peace Parish: Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul, 122 Ash Street, 7 a.m., 12:15 p.m. 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (Latin mass). Holy Cross Church, 1080 Lisbon St., Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Lisbon Falls, Holy Trinity Parish: Holy Trinity Church, 67 Frost Hill Ave., 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Mechanic Falls, St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish: Our Lady of Ransom Church, 117 Elm St., 7 p.m.

Sabattus, Our Lady of the Rosary Parish at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, 131 High St., 7 p.m.

For more information: www.portlanddiocese.org/ashwednesday

Some of the creations that fourth-graders at Saint Dominic Academy in Lewiston made Tuesday to prepare for Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent. (Bonnie Washuk/Sun Journal) 

The Rev. Seamus Griesbach, chaplain at Saint Dominic Academy. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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