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Yuba-Sutter Catholic faithful flock to churches for Ash Wednesday
Parishioners at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Yuba City had the opportunity to receive ashes early Wednesday as the Christian community observed the start of Lent and the 40 days leading to Easter Sunday.
During the 40 days of Lent "we are preparing ourselves for the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday," said Deacon Eldon Vignery, "that we will walk in his likeness through these ... days."
Ash Wednesday is "a public demonstration that we are sinners and are asking for grace and forgiveness," he said.
Easter Sunday is March 31.
The Rev. Miguel Silva-Garcia began dispensing ashes at 6 a.m. and planned to continue to 9 p.m. for the second year, enabling the faithful to observe the duties of Ash Wednesday without having to wait for the liturgical service about noon or the full Mass in the evening.
Maribel Orozco of Yuba City was content to attend the noon service after being unable to attend Ash Wednesday services for the past five years.
"It's a good feeling to come here after so many years, and to see other people that take the time ... to come," said the mother of two. "This year, I wanted to bring my baby," 15-month-old Jordan Perez.
She is giving up several things, Orozco said, but "God's son died for us on the cross. The little things that I do don't compare to the big things he did."
Rudy Rodriguez of Yuba City noted that Ash Wednesday is part of his faith. Lent "is a healing process," he said. "It is a tradition we grew up with and I pass it on to my family."
Ash Wednesday is the "start of my fasting and to reconcile myself to Easter," said Mary Scarff of Yuba City. "This is to make sure to follow in the footsteps of my religion."
Lent is a "new life, a new beginning," said Janice Vega who recently moved to Yuba City. "I wait very patiently for Ash Wednesday. Whatever happens through the year, I have a new beginning."
She moved to the Yuba-Sutter area in December after the death of her husband in January 2012.
"I had to move on," she said. "I have a new place, new church, new school. It's a new life. And it's Ash Wednesday. What could be better?"
Catholics respond to Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation
Parishioners at St. Isidore Catholic Church were asked their thoughts Wednesday about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
"This is good time for the Catholic Church to pray. A lot of people are afraid, but nothing is different. We need to understand his humility. He only wants to go outside of the responsibility (as pope) because he is minding his heart."
— The Rev. Miguel Silva-Garcia
"I was heartbroken when I heard about the pope. But God bless him. He is letting Catholic people know he is unable to fulfill (the position) and letting others step up."
— Mary Scarff, Yuba City
"He's elderly. ... I would rather have somebody who is OK in their mind and health running (the church) rather than someone with (an illness) with others speaking for him."
— Lili Ramirez, Yuba City
"It seemed strange to me. He seems ill and no longer can continue. God knows what he does."
— Rosalia Velasquez, Williams
"It's a frightening thing, because it's unknown what's going to happen to us now. Maybe it's a good thing for him; it's heartbreaking to me. We'll have to leave it in God's hands and hope for the best."
— Janice Vega, Yuba City
"It was a humble decision. He realized it was time, he could not keep up with the demands. It was an honest thing to do. It's good, it should teach us a lot about ourselves (that) we have limits. We need to recognize and accept it."
— Rudy Rodriguez, Yuba City