Brooklyn residents observe Ash Wednesday
Many Brooklyn residents headed to church on Wednesday to observe the first day of Lent.
Ashes are received on the forehead in the shape of a cross to symbolize sinfulness, a need for penance and mortality.
"It's to get the skills we need for living out of our Christian commitment, not just during Lent but for the whole year, so we grow in our experience of God's mercy," said the Rev. James Gilmour, of Basilica Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Church officials said Ash Wednesday Masses are better-attended than most holy day Masses, with the exception of Christmas.