Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 22, 2010
Ash Wednesday celebrated aboriginal way
Our Lady of Peace students gather at Sacred Heart Church to honour and understand their traditions
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Aboriginal and Catholic traditions melded in a unique Ash Wednesday celebration at Sacred Heart Church for the students of Our Lady of Peace School.
Students and teachers entered the church to flute music. Students played drums. The Our Father and the closing song were sung in Cree, understood by some but not all the students.
Oblate Father Jim Holland spoke on some of the unique First Nations and Metis aspects seen in the church.
Stations of the Cross at Sacred Heart take a different path than those in other parishes, Holland said.
"This shows the path that Jesus took to be crucified. At most churches, if not all churches, they go counterclockwise.
"But because we are aboriginal and we always go clockwise with nature, our Stations of the Cross go clockwise," said Holland.
The Ojibwa artist's images of each station show the characters without faces, so that one can view an image as if he or she is living the experience firsthand.
The image depicting Jesus falling with the cross shows that the cross was so burdensome that the sun and trees fell too.
Elder Betty Lafferty said the opening prayer in Cree.
"I know that a lot of the children here are learning the Cree language," Lafferty said.
She chose to use a microphone in saying the prayer "because the children need to hear the language, and they need to awaken that spirit within the language."
As in other Ash Wednesday celebrations, ashes were used to remind the kindergarten to Grade 6 students of their mortality and the need for repentance.
ASHES TO DUST
The ashes were smudged on the forehead of every student. They served as a poignant reminder that they will die someday and their bodies turn to dust.
"Lent is the journey, for 40 days, in which we prepare for the feast of Easter when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus loved us so much that he died for us on the cross," principal Dean Sullivan told the students. Sullivan
pointed out some of the seasonal changes. More sunlight, warmer weather and a new cycle of life emerges in nature.
"It's also a time to look at ourselves and see what we'd like to change. Lent is about roughing it, letting go of what's distracting us, and getting back to the basics," he said.
During Lent, people remember their baptismal promises, rearrange their priorities, pray, fast and give alms to those in need.
"On Ash Wednesday, we receive ashes on our head as a sign of our weakness. The ashes remind us to try a little harder to become more like Jesus," he said.
After Mass, Grade 5 students stayed at the church to make crafts and learn more about the drum.
Meanwhile, Grade 6 students volunteered at the Mustard Seed.
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