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Devout Fill San Fernando Cathedral To Celebrate Ash Wednesday And Begin Lent

San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio was packed for a noon mass on Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent for Catholics.

Lent meant something different to the men and women gathered for the Mass as the oldest continuously-active cathedral in the United States.

"It's the preparing yourself and drawing yourself closer to God and being ready for the big celebration that is Easter,"  Mallory Thompsett said.

"Lent means a time for reflecting and really looking back on how to serve and be a better person and grow spiritually as well," Kirby Hernandez said.

Many Catholics sacrifice something for Lent to replicate the sacrifice Jesus made on his journey in the desert.

Some of the attendees said they were giving up something they really liked, like sodas or sweets, to make it more of a sacrifice. Others were adding something to their lives.

"One of the priests actually brought up [that] you don't neccessarily have to give up something — you can add something. So I am adding daily prayer readings and religious readings to my schedule," Thompsett said.

Hernandez said she was wants to use Lent to improve her life.

"I guess thinking positively in the day to day and then on weekends spending some time volunteering with the church," she said. 

Most of those leaving the cathedral wore small crosses of ashes on their foreheads. Maria Vidal explained the mark's significance.

"It's a tradition for all Catholics and non-Catholics that they are welcome to church to receive our Lord's ashes because we are dust, and to dust we shall return," she said. 

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian