CATHOLIC churches will be full today as the 40-day season of Lent begins with the celebration of Ash Wednesday.
In all Masses, the priest will bless ashes and mark the foreheads of the faithful with the sign of the cross as he says, ?Repent and believe in the Gospel?.
The ashes are a reminder of one?s mortality and the need to repent one?s sins.
The ashes are collected from burned palms that were used during Palm Sunday last year, said Episcopal Vicar, Msgr. Esteban Binghay.
Binghay said the ritual is ?one of the means provided by the Catholic Church to encourage people to (perform) sacrifice.?
The Lenten season, which recalls the 40 days spent by Jesus Christ in the desert to prepare for his final mission in Calvary, is a period set aside to allow the faithful to reflect on the suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ on the cross in preparation for the celebration of the year's greatest feast ? Jesus? resurrection.
Lent ends on Holy Thursday, April 1.
Catholics are urged to go to confession, perform works of charity and abstain from eating meat during this season.
Starting today, men and women aged between 18 and 60 are urged to fast or eat only one full meal for the whole day.
Abstinence is practiced by those aged 16 and above wherein eating of meat is avoided.
A special prayer should also be said for the peaceful and honest conduct of the May 10 elections, said Msgr. Binghay.
?This is the time for candidates to reflect that they should be like Christ who came not to be served but to serve, to sacrifice their individual interests,? he said. Senior Editorial Assistant Bernadette Parco