Catholics mark Ash Wednesday today

Ash Wednesday starts Lent, the preparation for Easter

"And those of us who served on that day were blessed by the opportunity to meet and pray with others".

Not all Christians start Lent on Ash Wednesday.

You can do both, said the Rev. Katie Nakamura-Rengers, associate rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

"Lent is ... not a negative giving up as much as it is a positive chance to grow in love of God and neighbor through prayer and fasting and charity", Blair said.

I think that if that is why a person is upset they should change their Valentine's Day dinner for the day before or after Valentine's Day.

A quirk in the calendar is posing a question area Catholics and other Christians who observe Ash Wednesday haven't had to answer in 73 years.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will offer Ashes to Go from 6:30-8:30 the Braddock Street Metro, and Church of the Resurrection will offer the traditional blessing at the bus stops in front of The Graham or Southern Towers on Seminary Road from 6:30-7:30 a.m.

"You can come get your ashes anytime", Nakamura-Rengers said.

Columba Catholic Church, said the ashes are an important physical reminder of the importance of Lent. Cramer said it is fantastic that another church wanted to reach people and that Christians from different denominations will work together. Lent is a 40-day period of fasting, self-denial and self-inspection, created to help Christians to prepare their hearts for the celebration of Easter Sunday. Fasting is a discipline of abstaining from something for a period of time for spiritual benefit.

However, this year, coinciding with the beginning of Lent is Valentine's Day, traditionally a day of excess, when gifts of flowers and candy are lavished upon those special people in our lives.

The central message is from Genesis, a reminder of human mortality and dependence on God.

Priest marks the forehead of the churchgoers with ash in the shape of a cross as he says "Remember, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return". "That applies to anybody".

Ash Wednesday services often involve blessing ashes made from burning the palm fronds from the previous year's Palm Sunday, and spreading them on the foreheads of the faithful.

"Let us move from cheap love to true love. Christ is alive and we'll be raised from the dead with him".

"This is a rare event", said Father Comiskey of the simultaneous holidays being "a contrast of fast and abstinence with something joyful like Valentine's Day".

"Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbour".

Monsignor Michael Picard, pastor of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Newtown Township, Pennsylvania, echoed these sentiments, stating that Ash Wednesday was one of the most sacred days of the church's liturgical year, according to the Burlington County Times. Most churches will have morning and evening services commemorating the day.

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