CHICAGO (CBS) — Christians in Chicago are pausing to reflect on their lives and their faith. It’s Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of Lent.

CBS 2’s Pamela Jones says a lot of people are focusing less on what they’re giving up and focusing more on how they can improve the world around them.

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“On this first day of Lent God reminds you that you are dust,” a pastor said as he traced a cross on a woman’s forehead.

For some, it’s a mark of renewal. For others, it’s an outward sign of thankfulness.

“Sometimes we forget in this world that we’re so blessed in what God has given us,” said one woman after receiving her ashes.

She and other commuters rushed through the turnstiles at the Fullerton Red Line station and found a chance to practice their faith.

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The Episcopal parish, Church of Our Saviour, offered a chance to get ashes on-the-go. Many say the tough economy and political unrest around the world pulls them even more to find comfort in their faith.

“No matter whether it’s hard times or good times, our spirituality is a part of who we are. We have to care for that just like we care for everything else in our lives,” said Pastor Brian Hastings.

With the ashes comes a time of sacrifice where many will give up something they enjoy as a way to repent and remember those who are less fortunate.

At Holy Name Cathedral, parishioners gathered for a prayer service to share in the healing and forgiveness of the season.

“This time of putting on ashes to remember not only frailty and mortality, but just our desire to let God into our lives,” said Father Bill Moriarity

“Just improve yourself in any way shape you can. Help people,” said a parishioner leaving the church.

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