Maronite Catholics around Australia have started to gather at churches to take part in Ash Monday services, many squeezing in a quick lunchtime church visit to mark the occasion.
Ash Monday is the first day of the Lenten Season and Maronite churches traditionally hold special services and open their doors to parishioners who wish to receive blessed ashes on their forehead. The ashes mark the sign of the cross and are a symbol of penance.
At lunchtime today, Saint Charbel’s Maronite Catholic Parish in Sydney received many visitors who were rushing in for a quick prayer and ash blessing before going about their busy day.
Mechanic George Badran, 31, made time to visit the church on his break to say a quick silent prayer. ‘I’m here to receive the blessing and get the ashes on my forehead,’ he told El Telegraph Weekend before he approached the altar.
Mother of two, Annie El Kazzi, was also making her way to receive the ashes before the school pick up. ‘This is an important day for Maronites and is a symbol of our deep faith,’ she said.
For Christians, Lent is a time of reflection and spiritual growth. It is also a time of goodwill as many choose this time of the year to donate to charities or take part in charity events as a means of connecting with their faith.
Roman/Latin Rite Churches begin the Lenten Season on Wednesday, known as Ash Wednesday.