Students, seminarians, politicians, monks and faithful from all corners of Colorado gathered to mark the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
Several Catholics both young and old took a moment to share the most symbolic sign of the day—ashes placed on the forehead.
Ashes—a sign of mourning and repentance—are meant to remind Catholics of their mortality.
The tradition marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day liturgical season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving culminating in Holy Week and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
In his Ash Wednesday homily, Pope Francis said Lent is a time to “give ourselves a ‘shake-up’” and remember “we are creatures, that we are not God.”
Only after faithful face difficulties and struggles will they begin their journey toward Easter, he said.
The three hallmarks of this penitential season are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These are necessary to return to God in a time when society and the Church are in need of change, the pontiff said.
“Once again, Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to realize something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, continues to be full of goodness and mercy, and is always ready to forgive and start over from scratch. With this filial confidence, let us set out on our way!”