YUMA, Ariz. - Today is Ash Wednesday and people are participating in the religious celebration all over the Desert Southwest. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday and is mainly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it as well. Priests administer ashes during mass and all are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. It's a time where many reflect on their lives, become closer to the lord and repent their sins; That's according to father Emilio Chapa, priest of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Yuma.
Today, there were many people who went to church for the occasion. Father Chapa who led two masses today, explained the meaning behind the ashes.
"Theres a formula that is said when we give ashes, remember that you are dust and to dust you will return... so its just basically that we're mortal, you know, we're not going to live forever. so we have to live this life to the fullest. We have to really love and serve others, repent of our sins, because time is short."
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church held masses all day in both English and Spanish and continued on throughout the night. Father Chapa also added that there was a high attendance this year and that as always, everyone is welcome to participate and come to their church.