Community members attend Ash Wednesday service at St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church in downtown Flint

FLINT, MI — On the first day of Lent, Catholics begin their spiritual preparation for Easter on Ash Wednesday.

Marking exactly 40 days before Easter, Catholics are fasting in solidarity with the story of Jesus Christ’s fasting for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert.

“The importance of this day is remembering where we come from,” said Matt Myers, who attended the Ash Wednesday service March 2 with his wife Rochelle and five children at St. Matthew near Beach Street in downtown Flint.

Ash Wednesday Mass has personal and traditional significance for many members of St. Matthew’s Parish.

Madalyn Underwood, 98, got married, baptized and received her first communion in church.

“Today is a reminder that instead of giving up, we can give it to God,” she said.

Father Anthony Strouse led Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Matthew’s.

“For me personally, Ash Wednesday is a chance for all of us to come together as we begin this holy season of Lent as we prepare for Easter,” he said. “We walk with Christ in the desert. It is a chance for us to recognize that we are sinners and that we need God’s mercy and that the Lord gives it to us with love and grace.

“So this is a great chance for all of us, with those ash crosses on our foreheads to say, ‘we are a sinner but God has forgiven us and this great love can transform us to be happier, healthier people. and more holy.’ ”

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