Today Is Ash Wednesday

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The ashes symbolize both death and repentance. During this period, Christians show repentance and mourning for their sins, because they believe Christ died for them.

(CNN) – It’s Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. For those who celebrate, it’s a time for fasting, repenting and reflecting on mortality in the weeks leading to Easter Sunday. After service or mass, church attendees are invited to receive ashes on their forehead, often in the shape of a cross pattern.

It starts with Ash Wednesday — this year on March 2 — and ends a day before Easter (April 17 this time) which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Lent lasts for 40 days, excluding the six Sundays, and represents Jesus’ time in the wilderness, praying and fasting, and being tempted by Satan.

The ashes placed on one’s forehead are a symbol of that. As the priest applies them in a cross formation on someone’s forehead, they will say either, “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Many Catholics leave the mark on all day but wash it off before bedtime. Ashes also tend to flake off by themselves, or get rubbed away by absentminded forehead brushings.

The Center for Pluralism publishes the essence of major festivals from many religions, so that, as neighbors we can learn about each other’s festivities and commemorations. The more we know about each other, the fewer the conflicts would be, and greater the goodwill for all of us to live in peace and harmony.

Mike GhouseCenter for Pluralism

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