Merced-area Catholics begin season of Lent

Ash Wednesday marked the first day of Lent, the 40-day period – not including Sundays – of fasting, prayer and repentance leading up to Easter, which this year is April 20.

The ashes form the sign of a cross as a mark of repentance and a reminder of mortality. At Ash Wednesday services the clergy quote a biblical phrase from Genesis, “Remember, man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

The 40-day period points to the biblical account of Jesus fasting for 40 days to resist the devil’s temptations in the wilderness.