Katie Scott/Catholic Sentinel
Joseph Galati, a parishioner of All Saints Parish in Portland for more than a half-century, receives ashes during Mass. The ashes are made from the palms burned during a previous Palm Sunday. 

Katie Scott/Catholic Sentinel

Joseph Galati, a parishioner of All Saints Parish in Portland for more than a half-century, receives ashes during Mass. The ashes are made from the palms burned during a previous Palm Sunday. 

In great cathedrals and modest churches, Catholics around the globe gathered to receive the mark of mortality and God’s love on Ash Wednesday.

At All Saints Parish in Portland, community members squeezed in beside parish schoolchildren — as older students helped keep the younger ones' wiggles at bay during the longer-than-normal liturgy.

In attendance was Joseph Galati, an All Saints parishioner for 56 years and a volunteer sacristan for 35. During the distribution of ashes, Galati walked down an aisle with a subdued look on his face. But as Susan Harrington, a third-grade teacher and distributor of ashes, made the sign of the cross on his forehead, the longtime parishioner broke into a smile.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass for Ash Wednesday at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome today. In his homily, the pope said that Lent is a path. It is “the road leading from slavery to freedom, from suffering to joy, from death to life.”

It was as if Galati was thinking of that joy and that life as he received his ashes Wednesday.

May we all embrace the season with such anticipation and hope.