Lent started Wednesday in Charlotte and around the world, with Catholics and many Protestants receiving an ashen cross on their foreheads.
This Ash Wednesday ritual is a reminder of their mortality and an invitation to seek repentance and introspection. Many also fast and abstain from meat on this holy day.
About 50 parishioners received ashes at Charlotte’s Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church during a morning Mass.
The 40-day spiritual journey that begins with the starkness of Ash Wednesday will end with the joy of Easter (March 27), when these Christians will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Lent has been observed by Catholics, Orthodox Christians and many mainline Protestants for centuries.
For members of Eastern Orthodox churches, including the Greek Orthodox, the season called Great Lent will begin this year on March 14 with Clean Monday. They will celebrate Easter, or Pascha, on May 1.