Christians throughout Southern California are observing Ash Wednesday, ushering in the 40-day season of Lent, when the faithful prepare for Easter by doing penance for sins and seeking spiritual renewal.
Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of penance. A minister or priest marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the shape of a cross.
In the Roman Catholic worshipers are told as the ashes are applied to their foreheads, “Turn from sin and live the Gospel.”
Catholics observe Ash Wednesday by fasting, abstaining from meat and repenting. Other Christian denominations make fasting optional, with the main focus being on repentance.
Mass will be celebrated at many San Diego-area churches, including St. Joseph’s Cathedral downtown, where services are scheduled for 7 a.m., 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. Many churches will have evening services.
“We are invited on Ash Wednesday to remember our mortality,” said Rev. Jose H. Gomez, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles. “We are invited to remember that we are only here on this Earth for just a little while and then we are gone. We are dust. And to dust we will return.”
— From Staff and Wire Reports
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