COWANSHANNOCK -- Parishioners of St. Mary Mother of God Church in Yatesboro were among the millions of Christians around the world who attended Ash Wednesday services yesterday marking the beginning of the 40-day Lenten season.
The Rev. Daniel L. Blout, pastor of St. Mary, Mother of God, Church here and St. Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Parish in Kittanning, said that when people receive the ashes on their foreheads "it is really a deep sign of human nature, of the need for God's grace to turn away from sin."
Ash Wednesday is a time of reflection for many who accept the dark smudge on their forehead and hear the words: "Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return."
In Pope Benedict XVI's Lenten Message, he calls Lent a journey "marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter."
For centuries, Ash Wednesday has been a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics.
According to an article posted on www.AmericanCatholic.org by the Rev. Lawrence E. Mick of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the earliest recorded Ash Wednesday liturgy was in the year 960.
He noted that the custom did not become widespread among Catholics until the end of the 11th century under Pope Urban II. A century later, Catholics began rendering ashes from the burned palm branches used during the previous Palm Sunday.
This custom continues today and parishioners are invited to bring palms, saved from the previous year, to church before Lent begins for a ritual burning of the leaves.
With the Ash Wednesday Masses and church services, Blout said, he is surprised by the number of people who come out every year for the distribution of ashes.
"Faith is alive and well," he said.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.