WHEELING, W.VA. (WTRF) — It was a day of prayer and fasting for many in the Ohio Valley, and it officially marks the calendar for the first day of lent.

‘Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.’

Christians across the world are recalling that message as they celebrate Ash Wednesday, and it’s no different for those in Wheeling.

The old adage, no pain no gain. We want to gain something, we want to grow in our faith. We want to be better people, and we respond to the Lord’s call to do that. So, we go through the pain. Renunciation of sin is the main work of lent. If we take part in this, we’re going to be better off in the end.

Bishop Mark Brennan, Wheeling-Charleston Dioceses

Fasting becomes the symbol of sacrifice. In this way, it honors what believers say was Jesus’ sacrifice made for us.

We give up something good, not that meat in itself is bad. But we do it to show preference to God, who created the world in which we find the meat. The real fast is from sin, but the bodily fasting I call the prayer of the body. I’m doing this for God; to show I’m committed to God more than I am to feeding my stomach.”

Bishop Mark Brennan, Wheeling-Charleston Dioceses

Meat is given up on Ash Wednesday and then every Friday leading up until Easter.

Lent is a century’s old tradition, not just in the Catholic Church, but in many other Christian churches as well. Preparing for the great feast of Easter by getting off the extra poundage of sin you might say.

Bishop Mark Brennan, Wheeling-Charleston Dioceses

Watching what you eat becomes an even more meaningful factor in these next six weeks. At West Virginia Northern Community College, they’re prepping students on how to be vigilant of these food restrictions.

In my restaurant, or what we’re trying to teach the students, is we can modify things so that we can satisfy anybody who comes in.

Chef Gene Evans, Assistant Professor of Culinary Arts at WVNCC 

No meat every Friday could prove to be challenging for some, but in Chef Evan‘s kitchen it’s a challenge to get creative.

It’s the one time of year we’re actually forced into trying this, something we don’t normally do. Part of the reason I made these dishes is to show there is more than just your baked cod dish. There’s a whole variety of seafood especially in a season where every Friday you’re unable to use the one thing we might use every other Friday.

Chef Gene Evans, Assistant Professor of Culinary Arts at WVNCC

Whether you’re giving up meat, or dare I say chocolate, church members will agree the most important part is the reason why you’re doing it.