Today, you will see people at work, in the grocery store, or walking on the street who have smudged ashes on their foreheads. You might wonder what these marks are all about and why they so important to New Yorkers.

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Ash Wednesday, which falls around 46 days before Easter, is the beginning of the holy season of Lent. For Christians of various denominations, this 40 day period goes up to Easter and is regarded as a time of introspection, repentance, and spiritual preparation.

On Ash Wednesday, believers go to churches during their lunch breaks or after work to receive a cross of ashes on their foreheads. This is a reminder of our mortal failings and is a way to look for forgiveness from God. The ashes show repentance, as penitents in the Old Testament would perform public acts of penance to seek forgiveness from God.

During the Ash Wednesday service, a phrase from the Book of Genesis is sometimes recited: "Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." This serves as a reminder of our mortality, as we look back on our lives and look to make a change during Lent.

But why is Ash Wednesday so significant in New York? With our different cultures and religions, the Empire State is a melting pot of different cultures and religions with many faith traditions. Ash Wednesday brings Christians with different backgrounds together.

Ash Wednesday is also important to New Yorkers because of our fast-paced lives. The hustle and bustle of our everyday lives leave little room for reflection. Ash Wednesday is a chance for  New Yorkers to pause and take stock of our lives,.

The ashes on a person's forehead is a sign of the person's faith and commitment. As New Yorkers take part in this tradition of receiving ashes, they join many Christians throughout the world in this centuries-old ritual.

The act of receiving ashes is a powerful symbol of our need for repentance, forgiveness, and spiritual transformation. So, when you see someone with ashes on their forehead, remember the significance of this ancient tradition.

Celebrities Who Found Religion

The glitz and glam of fame may appear to be the good life. However, dealing with the trials and tribulations of life all while in the spotlight for the world to see can be a heavy weight to bear. While this is an obstacle all celebrities face, many of our favorite actors, singers and other celebrities have turned to religion to help cope with the pressure of celebrity and find their inner faith.

Gallery Credit: Kayla Thomas

Abandoned Catholic High School, Detroit

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