HomeFeaturesIN PHOTOS: Catholic faithful commence this year’s Lenten journey

IN PHOTOS: Catholic faithful commence this year’s Lenten journey

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, a sacred period in the liturgical calendar commemorating Jesus Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the desert.

Falling 46 days before Easter Sunday, this observance is chiefly embraced by Catholics, though it extends to various Christian denominations.

Rooted in ancient Jewish traditions of penance and fasting, the ritual involves the imposition of ashes on the forehead, symbolizing humanity’s origin from dust.

As the priest applies the ashes, the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return,” or alternatively, “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” are spoken.

Crafted from blessed palm branches from the prior year’s Palm Sunday Mass, these ashes signify grief for sins and separation from God, tracing back to Second-century Church practices.

Ash distribution takes place during Mass, extending an invitation to all, regardless of religious affiliation.

Ash Wednesday serves as a day of penitential prayer and fasting, with some opting to take a break from public activities. Though feasting is discouraged, exceptions are made for children, the elderly, and the sick.

- Newsletter -

While wearing ashes for the entire day is not obligatory, many choose to do so as a continual reminder. Innovative practices, like pastors distributing ashes in public spaces, are more prevalent in Protestant traditions. In unique cases, ashes may be delivered to the sick or shut-ins by a priest or a family member.

Marking the commencement of Lent, a season of reflection and fasting leading to Easter Sunday, Ash Wednesday embodies the spirit of penance.

The ashes, symbolizing life’s fleeting nature with the phrase, “Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust, you shall return,” are a humble reminder. Blessed by the Church, these ashes cultivate humility and sacrifice, emphasizing repentance through prayer, reflection, and penance during the Lenten journey. – with passages from Catholic Online

All photos by Jire Carreon

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