Ash Wednesday

Local Christians Mark Ash Wednesday

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 of 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.

Archbishop Jose Gomez will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at 12:10 p.m. in English and 7 p.m. in Spanish 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., 3 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

In his Lenten message, Gomez wrote that "Lent reminds us that we need to always be growing in virtue and holiness so we have the strength we need to continue along our pilgrim way."

"That is why we being every Lent by reliving Jesus' own journey into the desert," Gomez wrote.

"It is important to remember that the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert immediately after he was baptized in the Jordan River. This should tell us something about the pattern of our own lives -- about our spiritual journey as children of God."

In Mar Vista, St. Bede's Episcopal Church is holding services at 12 p.m. at St. Andrew's and at 7 p.m. at St. Bede's. St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church will hold a mass in Spanish at 7 pm.

- City News Service contributed to this report.


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