Christians Reflect On Meaning Of Ash Wednesday

The Mardi Gras celebrations are over and now millions of Christians around the world are embarking on a journey of spiritual renewal.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. For the next 40 days, many Christians reflect on the life of Jesus Christ by making personal sacrifices. For many Christians, the Ash Wednesday service is the acknowledgement of their shortcomings.

"It just has a special meaning to me," said Melanie Raymond. "It makes me realize that I do have to repent for my sins."

For others, the mark on the forehead symbolizes an ancient heartfelt tradition.

Mary Knox said, "I was born in this and continued on. My parents were strict Catholics and that's how we were raised. I just can't seem to go without it. It means so much to me."

"The ashes come from the book of Genesis," said Father John Ralph. "Where the Lord took the clay out of the Earth and he made man and man became a living soul. That ashes remind us that we were dust at one time and that in the end we return to dust."

At Our Lady of Fatima is Biloxi the faithful gathered for first day of Lent. For 40 days until Easter, they are asked to each try to commit to some type of personal sacrifice.

Father Patrick Mockler said, "I unplugged the t.v. I'm watching way to much t.v. in my room so I'm going to try to do without t.v. for Lent. "

Father John Ralph says too many people concentrate on giving up something for Lent, and don't give enough thought to what they should be giving to others.

"I think it's more important that we do positive things. I'm not big on sacrifice myself," he said. "I think it's very good to do something maybe help the poor or volunteer somewhere, at a hospital or where ever."

Catholic leaders say the word "Lent" is German for Spring. They say Lent is a good time for people looking for new beginnings in their lives.