Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent and the day we remind ourselves that we are dust.  During Lent, parishioners write meditations for each day, and we assemble them into a booklet.  I also put these meditations online.  To protect the privacy of parishioners, I will not give their names.

I'll post a new meditation every day during lent except for Sundays.

Hope you enjoy them.


  When I was young, I wondered about Ash Wednesday and Lent. 

  I learned that Sunday is considered the day of resurrection.  They chose the 40-day period prior to commemorate the 40 days that Jesus fasted and was tested.  Forty days signify the 40 years Moses led the people of Israel through the wilderness to repent of their building Idols.

  From earlier history when people wanted to show that they were truly penatent, they put on sackcloth and covered themselves with ashes.  After Jesus preached not to show their piety in public, the amount of ashes used became less, to about what we now have at the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday."

  No one knows exactly when the resurrection took place.  However we do know it took place.  Seven days after Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, which we call Palm Sunday.  The celebration does not take place the same day every year.  The determination is not based on the last events in the life of Jesus Christ but on the position of the moon and the Spring equinox. 

  This 40-day period of Lent is a period of "abstinence" from food; but primarily from personal iniquities.  Abstenance from food alone (fasting) alone is a means of attaining virtue; it is not an end in itself.  During the period of fasting, one makes a special attemt to evaluate his or her calling as a Christian; to listen to the voice of the gospel and heed its commandments to accept the constant invitation to everyone willing to enter; who believes in Christ and repents his iniquities; who makes an "about face" directly to Christ.