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Locals observe Ash Wednesday

Posted: February 17, 2010 10:03 p.m.
Updated: February 18, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Gretta Buntrock receives a cross of ash on her forehead for Ash Wednesday during the Imposition of Ashes during noon services held at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Newhall on Wednesday.

Some might give up little joys like chocolate or games.

But for Sarah Gordon, 22, the indulgence she’s dropping for Lent is talking back to her father, she said as she filed into St. Stephens Episcopal Church with her friend, Danny Kam, on Ash Wednesday.

“It’s just a time for the Christian community to come together and spend the next 40 days remembering the way Jesus lived,” said Kam, 23.

Ash Wednesday is the first holiday of the about 40-day Lent season among many Christians.

“We’ve been doing it for the last 1,400 or 1,500 years. We try to keep up the tradition,” said Reverend Lynn Jay of St. Stephens Episcopal Church. “Aside from the historical nature and obvious symbolism, it meets a lot of needs.”

During service, ashes are placed on the foreheads of parishioners as a symbol that they are from dust, and to dust they will return, said Rev. Dominic Radecki of Queen of Angels Catholic Church.

Radecki said that during good times, people tend to forget God. But when crisis strikes, they turn back.

“God’s love extends to all of us all the time,” he said. “When things are bad, He’ll help us through it. I think that’s a really good thing. It’s very hard to endure suffering. During Lent we consider what Jesus suffered for our sins. It really helps us to bear our sufferings patiently.”

During Lent, Christians prepare for Easter by doing penance for sins and seeking spiritual renewal through prayer, fasting and good works, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles states on its Web site.

Commonly, adherents don’t truly give up all food during their fasts. Observers instead give up more specific, cherished foods, such as chocolate, or activities like games.

Jay said Lent is a time to not only appreciate what one has, but to “get back to the basics of who we are and what we are” as spiritual beings.


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