BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s Ash Wednesday–the day that marks the beginning of Lent. Many take time to go to church on this day, but for others, getting their ashes means just a trip around the block.

Mary Bubala reports.

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In front of Cafe Hon on 36th Street in Hampden, a religious ritual becomes more pedestrian–literally. It’s “Ashes to Go” on this Ash Wednesday.

Episcopal churches across the nation began streetside ashes back in 2007. Wednesday, three Hampden churches offered the services to commuters, shoppers and others.

“We want to bring the church to the people. We realize we have busy lives and we want to bring God to where the people are. Ash Wednesday is a day of remembering we are not perfect people, but God loves us anyway,” said Rev. Bonnie McCubbin, Good Shepherd UMC.

“I seen it and I told my friend, ‘Please stop, please stop.’ Because sometimes you just need to go to Him first,” one woman said.

For others, Ash Wednesday must be marked inside a church, where they will receive their ashes during a traditional service.

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The Baltimore Basilica was full for its noon mass on Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a 40-day period before Easter when the church asks parishioners to pray and fast.

“The ashes are a reminder of the shortness of life and of our mortality–that we have come from dust, we return from dust. It’s sort of a way of saying that we are really God’s creation and we are totally belonging to God,” said Archbishop William Lori. “And so when we receive these ashes, it’s meant to remind us to put first things first in our lives.”

It’s a solemn, reflective time–whether inside a church or on the street.

The Hampden churches also administered ashes at the Woodbury light rail stop and the St. Mary’s Roland View Towers senior living complex.

Placing ashes on the forehead at the beginning of Lent began back in the Middle Ages.

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