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Southland Christians to mark Ash Wednesday

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A Catholic priest applies ashes in the sign of a cross to a woman at St. Patrick's Cathedral as part of Ash Wednesday observances, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A Catholic priest applies ashes in the sign of a cross to a woman at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as part of Ash Wednesday observances, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Christians throughout the Southland will observe Ash Wednesday today, beginning the 40-day season of Lent, when the faithful prepare for Easter by doing penance for sins and seeking spiritual renewal through prayer, self-denial and good works.

Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. A minister or priest marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the shape of a cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until washing it off after sundown.

In the Roman Catholic church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance. Other Christian denominations make fasting optional, with the main focus being on repentance.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at noon in English at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, where Mass will be also celebrated in English at 6:15 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., and 5:15 p.m. and at 7 p.m. in Spanish. A bilingual Liturgy of the Word will be celebrated at 3 p.m.

For this Lent, Gomez is asking Catholics to reflect more deeply on the Beatitudes, the eight “blessings” Jesus proposed at the start of his Sermon on the Mount.

“Beatitude means ‘blessedness’ — perfect happiness,” Gomez said. “So the Beatitudes are the summary of the path of Christ, the way of love that leads to the happiness that every human heart desires.”

 

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