For many Christians, the Lenten journey began on Wednesday, when they received an ashen cross on their foreheads (or hands, in some traditions) as a reminder that Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and charitable giving.
Ash Wednesday services throughout the area are marking the start of a 40–day pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and preparation for Easter.
According to the gospels, Jesus spent 40 days praying and fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry. Lent marks that phase of his life.
Eastern Rite Christians began Lent on Monday. Christians in both the Eastern and Western traditions will celebrate the Resurrection of Christ — Easter or Pascha — on April 20.