Ash Wednesday Marks Beginning of Lent

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This year, Valentine’s Day isn’t the only thing celebrated on February 14th.

For Christians, Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, a day that signifies the beginning of Lent.

Dozens of people visited Camden’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception today to attend Mass and receive ashes in the form of a cross on their forehead.

That marking signifies the beginning of the season of Lent.

“Lent is a season every year of 40 days, in imitation of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert in order to prepare himself for the ministry,” said Bishop Dennis Sullivan of the Diocese of Camden.

From now until Easter, Christians use Lent as a time of reflection, prayer, and fasting.

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The goal is to spend more time with God and doing less for yourself in order to help others, according to participants.

“Charity is the keyword today because charity is the law of Christ,” said Bishop Sullivan. “And charity helps us reach out beyond ourselves.”

Giving up a certain food or hobby is popular during this season, but the Bishop says Lent goes far beyond sacrificing some of your favorite things.

“It’s giving up to deny yourself but to make yourself and denying yourself realize that ‘I need God, I depend on God,’” explained Bishop Sullivan. “And I give up because I can reach out and help someone.”

Give up time on the internet,” he continued. 

“Give up time on your phone. Concentrate more on talking with people face to face. Not just entertaining yourself on social media. That’s the kind of giving up that I think speaks to today’s generations, you know?”

But outside of sacrifice, works of charity and prayer are also encouraged during the season, reconnecting Christians back to their religion as we get closer to the start of spring and the Easter holiday.

“I’ve been a priest for many years and I have seen over the years, especially at the end of Lent, how frequently people will come, particularly to the sacrament of Penance and talk about how the season of Lent did something for them,” said Bishop Sullivan.

Read: Meet Your Cumberland County 2018 Hometown Heroes

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