NEW YORK (WABC) -- Christians are marking Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent.
It's the 40-day period of prayer, self-sacrifice, and acts of charity in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan will be one of many locations to mark the day with in-person services.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan shared a Lenten message with New Yorkers Wednesday morning.
"Blessed Lent everyone. We start the 40 days of prayer, self-denial, and charity today leading up to Easter. I always loved the conference here, it's kind of a tradition at 31st Street where our wonderful Franciscan Fathers of St. Francis of Assisi have the bread line, they feed about 300 every morning. Now, they've expanded in two places and now they have the added joy of feeding some of our immigrants who are here as well. So it's a great apostolate and it reminds us that prayer and self-denial which are essential for us as disciples of Jesus also entail outreach and love and compassion to others, so you have a good Lent, you hear!" Cardinal Dolan said.
Parishioners should check with their local parishes for a schedule of mass services or Liturgy of the Word.
The ashes are made from the charred remains of palm fronds from the prior year's Palm Sunday. They are placed on a parishioner's forehead in the sign of the cross to symbolize that God made everyone out of dust, and all shall return to dust at the end of their lives.
Catholics then wear the ashes for the rest of the day as a sign of penance for their sins.