Wednesday, February 26, marked the beginning of the season of lent throughout the world.
The 40 days that follow are set aside as a time of penance, reflection and fasting in preparation for Easter.
Ash Wednesday is observed by many Western Christians including Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans and Presbyterians.
According to the gospels, Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert. Lent reminds the faithful to fast and sacrifice 40 days, beginning with Ash Wednesday, as preparation for Easter.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palms blessed on the previous year's Palm Sunday, which occurs a week before Easter Sunday.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the name dies cinerum (day of ashes) is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century.
On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead.
As the priest, deacon or lay minister traces the sign of the cross on the foreheads of parishioners, they remind them that life on Earth will pass away.
“Remember, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” or the optional, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
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PICS: One photo and caption uploaded to MyCapture.
Parochial Vicar Father Reynor Santiago administers ashes to parishioners of the Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr, on Wednesday, February 26.