Throughout the day I witnessed many faithful with the print of an ashy cross on their foreheads as part of Ash Wednesday – a ritual practiced by Catholics and various denominations in observance of the start of Lent as well as the approach of Easter. Ash Wednesday, which fell on Feb. 18 this year, is meant as a sign of mourning and repentance as many place ash on their foreheads, which is typically gathered from the previous years Palm Sunday.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not officially recognize Ash Wednesday or practice Lent. A reason being that it is a ritual that was created during the Great Apostasy, a dry spell between the death of Christ, his Apostles, and the restoration of the original Church of Christ.
According to lds.org:
“The Great Apostasy, which occurred after the Savior established His Church. After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread apostasy, the Lord withdrew the authority of the priesthood from the earth.“
However, the Mormon Church does not officially prohibit the practice of Lent or Ash Wednesday, but it does encourage fasting throughout the year along with sacrament participation every week for the remittance of sin and repentance.
According to About.com:
“The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19;Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.”
Roman Catholics and other denominations argue, the Great Apostasy, by saying that they are in harmony with the teachings and practices that Christ gave his Apostles.