Ash Wednesday begins in Long Beach with drive-thru ‘Ashes To Go’

Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 7:11 AM CST
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LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - Mardi Gras is officially over and the Lenten season is underway. People across the Gulf Coast are preparing to sacrifice for the next 40 days, giving up something personal to them for Lent.

The occasion is marked each year beginning with Ash Wednesday, where the mark of the cross is placed a person’s forehead in ashes to symbolize the start of Lent.

Local clergy are once again helping parishioners with Ashes to Go. The drive-through event is being held again this year in the parking area of the Jim Simpson Sr. Memorial Fishing Pier in Long Beach. People can remain in their vehicles and receive the imposition of ashes and a prayer until 8:30am.

Cars began lining up at 6am to receive the blessing from local clergy.

Ash Wednesday marks the onset of the Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and abstinence. It is also known as the ‘Day of Ashes’. So called because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.

Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Priests administer ashes during Mass and all are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. Even non-Christians and the excommunicated are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s palm Sunday Mass.

It is not required that a person wear the ashes for the rest of the day, and they may be washed off after Mass. However, many people keep the ashes as a reminder until the evening.

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