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March 04. 2014 8:41PM

Clergy to take Ash Wednesday to the streets today in Concord

Episcopal clergy plan to hit the street in Concord to offer ashes to pedestrians today, which is Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day season of Lent.

The Episcopal bishop, the Right Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, and three other Episcopal ministers will take part of Ashes to Go, a nationwide program designed to mark the foreheads of Christians who don’t have the time or forgot to attend a service, according to the website ashestogo.org.
They will be at the State House Plaza from noon to 2 p.m.“It has been a long and grueling winter. The ashes on Ash Wednesday could be seen as the hope for Mud Season,” Hirschfeld said in a statement. Last year, more than 70 Episcopal parishes in 18 states took part in Ashes to Go.
Catholics and Christians of Western churches begin Lent today. They are urged to abstain from certain foods, give more to charity and pray.
“Take up the exercise of prayer again. Get up! Get to Mass! And don’t just let it happen — pray your brains out,” Catholic Bishop Peter A. Libasci said in prepared remarks.

Adult Catholics are urged to abstain from meat today, eat only one full meal and only two supplemental meals. On Fridays during Lent, Catholics are expected to not eat meat.

In their statements, Libasci and Hirschfeld said the ashes are a reminder of human mortality.

Meanwhile, Orthodox churches began their Lenten season on Monday, which is referred to as Clean Monday, said the Rev. Andrew Mahalares, the pastor of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Manchester.

Devout Orthodox Christians avoid meat and dairy for the entire Lenten season, as well as Holy Week, the week that leads up to Easter, Mahalares said. On Wednesdays and Fridays, they abstain from food prepared with cooking oils.

“If you’re full, you’re less likely to pray, to read scripture, to spend time in church,” he said.Mahalares said Orthodox Christians do not don ashes. He cited a New Testament verse that tells the faithful to avoid any outward sign that lets people know they are fasting.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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