Meridian, Miss. The Christian religious season of Lent began Wednesday with churches participating in Ash Wednesday services across the area.
One of those services took place at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
Parishioners received ashes in the form of a sign of the cross on their foreheads.
The purpose of Lent is to prepare the believer through prayer and repentance of sins and bring him or her closer to God as they contemplate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"We are given a chance by Jesus to repent for our sins, spend more of our time in prayer, and doing good almsgiving to those who are in need," said the Rev. Suresh Thirumareddy, associate pastor of Meridian's Catholic Community.
People often give up things for Lent or offer to do positive things for themselves or other people. Lent continues for 40 days until Easter.