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Catholics, Anglicans prepare for Lent

Published:Wednesday | February 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator

Today marks the official start of Lent, and thousands of Roman Catholics and Anglicans will begin a season of fasting and repentance in preparation for the Easter celebration.

"After the homily tomorrow (Wednesday), persons will be marked with ashes, in the sign of the cross, on their foreheads," said Father Collin Henriques of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kingston.

He said the period of Lent will last for 40 days, during which persons will spend every Wednesday and Friday fasting, praying and seeking repentance for their sins.

They are expected to reflect on their lives over the past year and be more committed to God and the Church.

Atonement, humbling

According to website
, since the blood of Jesus represents atonement, at the heart of Ash Wednesday is a humbling of oneself through fasting and prayer. The ashes used in the Ash Wednesday ritual come from burning the palm branches used to celebrate Palm Sunday of the previous year. After being blessed with holy water, the ashes sit amid burning incense to take on a pleasing scent.

The website further stated that this ceremony originated around the eighth century and extends back to the custom, during biblical times, of people humbling themselves with sackcloth and ash.

Father Michael Heine of the Above Rocks Catholic Church said that come Easter Saturday and Sunday, Catholics will renew their baptismal vows.

"It is like renewing their spiritual lives," said Heine.

Associate Pastor Cedric Thompson of the Pentecostal Gospel Temple on Windward Road, Kingston, stressed that Pentecostal churches do not observe Lent in the same way as Catholics.

"We do not really go out of our way to put any premium on Lent. We will fast and pray any time of the year that we so desire," Thompson said.