The Lenten fast season gives food for spiritual thought

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Lent isn't only a Catholic observance, as several area Protestant ministers will attest.

Ash Wednesday just got glitzy!

The Rev. José H. Gomez, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at noon at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

The Rev. John Edwin Infante Pinzon of St. John's Episcopal Church will be stationed along Beacon Boulevard near Starbucks and the Very Rev. Jared Cramer will be along southbound Beacon Boulevard near Fifth Third Bank from 8:30-10 a.m. and from 4-5:30 p.m.

"I prefer not to name the ashes as a sign of shame or guilt or sorrow, but one where God claims us as beloved and transformed to turn around the beauty and grace in our lives", said Strader. "For us, it is a penitential time for self-examination".

For Catholics, abstaining from meat is still a requirement. During this season it is common to hear talk of what others will be giving up for Lent. "It's quieter", he said. Ash Wednesday is the kick-off, so to speak, for Lenten season, marking the beginning of one's decision of dedication to spiritual discipline.

"What matters is our spirit and what's inside of us", said Father Girotti.

"That (Valentine's Day) is not about the ushy gushy romantic love, it is about that deeper love, and that's the kind of love that God has for us", she said. "Like all relationships, time and effort are important and so I think devoting more of it to praying and being consciously present with God will help to nurture the relationship I have with my faith". The practice of fasting is nearly always paired with prayer in the Bible.

"We have all kinds of specials, lots of good things like grilled tuna, on the menu", Merkel said. "And those of us who served on that day were blessed by the opportunity to meet and pray with others".

Once again the Lenten season is upon us.

Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, precedes Easter by exactly 46 days.

As a compromise Catholic bishops have suggested celebrating the festival of romance this evening instead - but those who may leave it to tomorrow may end up having a more abstemious meal than is usual.

"Ash Wednesday, the first of forty days of prayer, penance, and charity we call Lent, leading us to Holy Week and Easter, is also about the heart: a heart called sacred, wounded by unreturned love, broken by callousness and selfishness: the heart of Jesus".