San Antonians observe Ash Wednesday


SAN ANTONIO – Mardi Gras is over and the season of Lent is officially here, starting with Ash Wednesday.

"We usually get up really early in the morning and come here," said 11-year-old Skyler Johnson.

He, his mother and three siblings have made a tradition of going to San Fernando Cathedral every Ash Wednesday. It's become something special to each of them.

"It's so hard to set an example sometimes but this is such a tangible way that we can, and a memory that we'll have that we did this together," said Skyler's mother, Amy Johnson.

"We have time off from rushing and we can go somewhere all as a family," said 7-year-old Liam Johnson.

The Rev. Tony Vilano said that's what the season of Lent is all about.

"We are a people who are always in a rush to do something. Move here, move there, do whatever, and we're called just to slow down and reflect on our relationship with each other and especially with our God," Vilano said.

For those who couldn't make it to a church service, volunteers from St. Paul's Lutheran Church stood out on the corner of Market and Alamo streets downtown to give out "Ashes to Go" to both pedestrians and drivers waiting at lights.

Vilano said it doesn't matter how the ashes get onto your forehead, just that you understand the meaning of them.

"To remind us of who we are. We come from ashes and we're going to be returned right back to the ashes," Vilano said.

He said he hopes the day will remind people to make positive changes and give back.

"Look out for others who are suffering and reach out to them," he said.

Vilano said it's an attempt to stop the world from spinning so fast, just long enough to figure out how to make it better.

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