Do You Feel Ashy?

homemade-lotion.jpgToday is Ash Wednesday. To give you a little background let’s see what Wikipedia has to say.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days before Easter. It falls on different dates from year to year, according to the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10. Ash Wednesday can fall on Leap Day only during a leap year for which April 15 is Easter Sunday. The next time Ash Wednesday will fall on Leap Day will be in 2096, the first such year since the 1582 adoption of the Gregorian Calendar.

At Masses and services of worship on this day, worshipers are blessed with ashes by the celebrating priest or minister. The priest or minister marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes, in the shape of a cross, which the worshiper traditionally retains until washing it off after sundown. In many Christian churches, the minister of ashes may also be a layperson or non-clergyman. The symbolism echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ash over one’s head signifying repentance before God (as related in the Bible).
The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations and mixing them with olive oil as a fixative. In the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence (from meat), and repentance—a day of contemplating one’s transgressions. The ashes are sacramentals, not a sacrament. The Penitential psalms are read.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, which lasts until the Easter Vigil. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are permitted to consume only one full meal, which may be supplemented by two smaller meals, which together should not equal the full meal. Many Catholics will go beyond the minimum obligations demanded by the Church and undertake a complete fast or a bread and water fast. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of abstinence from meat, as are all Fridays in Lent. Many Catholics continue fasting during the whole of lent, as was the Church’s traditional requirement, concluding only after the celebration of the Easter Vigil.

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer designates Ash Wednesday as a day of fasting.

Neat huh?


3 Responses to “Do You Feel Ashy?”

  1. The first folks I see with ashes every Ash Wednesday always take me by surprise. I like it when I remember I am going to see folks with dirt on their foreheads looking completely oblivious.

  2. >>In the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence (from meat), and repentance—a day of contemplating one’s transgressions.

    Yup, today is a meatless day for me. And fasting kinda stinks too but, oh well. Making sure that I don’t snack in between meals is the most difficult.

    I also decided to give up chocolate for Lent too. Had my first temptation this morning, when someone brought in chocolate chip cookies.

  3. Rob Bell’s podcast from last week was pretty cool. I listened to it today on the plane. Sounds like they are doing some pretty cool stuff at Mars Hill in honor of lent.

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