CLIFTON - Dozens received ashes at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Clifton Wednesday morning to mark the start of Lent.

The Ash Wednesday tradition is considered a reminder of mortality.

The practice goes back thousands of years, to the time of Moses.

"Ashes are a sign of penitence," says Rev. Peter De Franco. "If you read the Hebrew scriptures, they are regularly cited as using ashes as a sign of their repentance, and turning away from sin, and turning back to God."

For the next 40 days, Christians are asked to turn back to God through some kind of sacrifice.
     
Traditionally, that means prayer, fasting and charity work.