Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What is Ash Wednesday? And a funny story about Lent...

Ash Wednesday is a day in the liturgical calendar that starts the Season of Lent, which is a
time of intentional preparation for the celebration of Easter. It occurs 46 days before Easter.

According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting. Of the 46 days until Easter, six are Sundays. As the Christian Sabbath, Sundays are not included in the fasting period and are instead "feast" days during Lent.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of participants as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday.

A funny story. My daughter Grace asked me whether Lent was that season when people give up something. I said, "Yes, it is. Often people will give up chocolate, or coffee, or something else they really enjoy." She thought about that for a moment, and then asked, "What do you think you'll give up for Lent?"

I said, "Hmmm. Oh...I've got it! I'm going to give up wearing clothes in public."

She said in an exaggeratedly thoughtful way, "You know Dad. I don't think God would want you to do that."

She knows me too well...