'Ashes-to-Go' provides quick alternative to a solemn ritual

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - For Christians around the world Ash, Wednesday signifies the start of Lent - a 40-day season of fasting, reflection and penance culminating in Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

While most churches observe Ash Wednesday in a place of worship, others have begun taking a different approach.

In this busy world we live in, it has to be a pretty rare sight to slow us down. Four priests on Fountain Square held canisters of ashes Wednesday and had several people taking a second look.

"Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," they recite while marking a cross on your forehead with ash coated fingers.

It is called Ashes-To-Go, a reminder of life's fleeting nature in the midst of it.

"I just happened to pass by. I was just searching some different sites when I was at work to see when some masses were available that I could go to and then I saw them and thought it was a great opportunity. It's great that they are doing this," said Captain Brittany Hine of the United States Army. She asked for prayer for her fellow soldiers still fighting overseas.

"A lot of people have been, I think, surprised that the church would care enough to be outside and reaching out to them instead of expecting people to come inside," said Rev. Scott Gunn, a clergy member of Christ Church Cathedral.

This is his first time participating in Ashes-To-Go and says with life's busy nature, it is the best way to meet Christians and potential Christians where they are.

But for some churches, the sacrifice of coming inside is what Ash Wednesday is all about.

"I think it is that call to kind of take a step back from the ordinary and say you know I'm going to make an extra sacrifice. I'm going to do something extra for the Lord today and I'm going to find myself in church as opposed to necessarily receiving them in a fly by fashion like Ashes To Go," says Father David Endres, Professor of Church History at Mt. Saint Mary's Seminary.

The movement of Ashes to Go has spread across the country in recent years with more and more churches participating. Some priests could be found at bus stops, at intersections and in coffee shops offering ashes to anyone who took the time to stop.

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