By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Christians throughout the region today were marking the start of the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday services.

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Archbishop Charles Chaput, the spiritual leader of more than one million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was principal celebrant of a mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, on Logan Circle.

Speaking to the assembled faithful, the archbishop reminded them that Lent is to be a time of prayer, self-denial, and a renewal of the spiritual life.

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“Rather than placing ourselves appropriately in relationship with God and other people, we exaggerate ourselves, and that throws things off of balance,” he said.  “So, every year in the Lenten season, the church invites us back to balance through this spiritual battle.”

Chaput says it is also a time for “those who have” to share with “those who do not,” and also a time for giving one’s time and talent to help others.

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