Fat Tuesday is over. Make way for ashes, abstinence and changes of heart.
In Catholic and Protestant churches around Orange County and the world, Ash Wednesday services mark the beginning of Lent, the 40-day liturgical season leading to Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
It's a time for personal reflection, acts of sacrifice and new beginnings, church officials say.
"The term Lent comes from the Old English word for 'spring' and Christians see these days as a time for changes of heart, personal repentance and an openness to the grace of a fresh beginning," according to a statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.
At noon in Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, Bishop Kevin Vann will celebrate his first Ash Wednesday as the newly installed head of the Diocese of Orange.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Vann said: “The announcement of Pope Benedict’s retirement and the election of a new Pope by Easter adds great significance to this Lenten season. ... Ash Wednesday truly will be a season of new beginnings and reflection for Catholics worldwide.”