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Gomez Celebrates First Ash Wednesday As Archbishop

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(credit: Kathy Willens/AP)

(credit: Kathy Willens/AP)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Archbishop Jose H. Gomez celebrated his first Ash Wednesday Mass Wednesday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, beginning the 40-day season of Lent.

During Lent, observers prepare for Easter by doing penance for sins and seek spiritual renewal through prayer, self-denial and good works.

In his Lenten Message, Gomez explains that Lent “is all about reconciliation with God and his church and deeper conversion to Christ and his gospel.”

“Lent is the season of renewal, the springtime of the spirit,” Gomez wrote. “It is a time for purification, for rooting out bad habits and making good resolutions.”

Ash Wednesday is named for the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful, as a sign of repentance. A minister or priest marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the shape of a cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until washing it off after sundown.

In the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat and repentance. Other Christian denominations make fasting optional, with the main focus being on repentance.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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