Father Issa Hijazeen places ashes on the foreheads of elementary students from the Latin Patriarchate School during an Ash Wednesday Mass at Annunciation Church in the West Bank city of Beit Jala.
Catholics celebrate Lent, a chance for a new beginning
""As Catholics observed Ash Wednesday with the distribution of ashes, the message at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City was to do Lenten actions in secret so that "your Father who sees in secret will reward you," according to the readings.
"The readings today give us our Lenten job description," the Rev. Ed Fitzpatrick said.
Lent is a time for people to return to the Lord and be ambassadors for Christ, strengthening their spiritual connection in the time before Easter, he said.
"It's the chance to have a start at a new beginning," Lacina said.
The Newman Center offered ash distribution 23 minutes after the hour every hour from 8:23 a.m. to 3:23 p.m. Wednesday. Ashes also were distributed during four Eucharistic celebrations.
After receiving their ashes, each person stepped aside and waited to give a Lenten greeting of peace to the person who followed.
The ashes for Ash Wednesday come from the palms of Palm Sunday, Fitzpatrick said. Palm Sunday is an enthusiastic celebration, but in the time between last year's Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday, people lose a little bit of that spiritual connection.
That's why it is appropriate that a sign of enthusiasm becomes a sign of penance, Fitzpatrick said.
With prayer, fasting and almsgiving, people can be connected to all others and take only what they need, not necessarily what they want, Fitzpatrick said.""