Ash Wednesday the beginning of the Lent season

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Ash Wednesday (Courtesy: WCIV)

By Sonya

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lent season, the 40-day period that Christians prepare for Easter.

The cold, rainy weather couldn't keep people out of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist for Ash Wednesday's noon mass.

Pews were filled with people singing and praying. Then the aisles were filled with people lining up to get marked with a cross of ashes on their forehead.

"I think it's a reminder that this life is only temporary, and that is what the ashes refer to. The priest or deacon, what they say to us when we get our ashes is, remember that you are dust and into dust you will return," said Mary Olimpio, who attended Ash Wednesday's mass.

The Lent season is also an opportunity for people to give up something.

"Definitely sweets, especially this time of the year it's hard, but actually trying to be more positive and giving us negativity, kind things to other people," said Cynthia Cornelssen and Monica Coleman, who give up something for Lent every year.

"I think what I'm giving up for Lent is being negative towards other people, so I'm going to try to encourage one person every day," said Olimpio.

But some are still undecided.

"I have given up chew before, and I have given up alcohol for almost 20 years, so I work on something I think the next couple of days or so," said Rob Concannon, who is a practicing Catholic.

Of course there are still 39 days in Lent. It ends on Easter Sunday.