Ash Wednesday - Gospel Illustration: Mt. 6 1-6 16-18 – Lent - The Meaning and History of Ash Wednesday

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Published on February 17, 2014

Author: danmaynes



Ash Wednesday - Gospel Illustration: Mt. 6 1-6 16-18 – Lent - The Meaning and History of Ash Wednesday

Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival & Ash Wednesday The Lenten Season Begins

The Tuesday Before Ash Wednesday is sometimes called Mardi Gras {French} – Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday – Having your sins forgiven or Carnival England It was a day designated for eating up Lent’s forbidden foods. For centuries Christians kept Lent by not eating any animal products.

Necessity? Lenten fasting from animal products probably began out of necessity but then became a demonstration of the Christian’s victory over self. Also the coming warm weather would spoil foods in storage. Late winter and early spring are the animals’ birthing season. By not eating animal products the new herd got off to a good start.

Lent Begins With Ash Wednesday The highlight of the year for Christians is Easter, the day when our Lord rose from the dead. Lent is a forty-day season of preparation for Easter Sunday. Lent always begins on a Wednesday and is thus called Ash Wednesday.

Where Do The Ashes Come From? The ashes we receive in church on Ash Wednesday came from burning of the palms used last year on Passion or Palm Sunday. Passion or Palm Sunday marks the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people laid palms on the ground ahead of Him (Jn. 12:12-13). Some parishes also add oil of the Catechumenate to the ashes.

Every Ash Wednesday we hear from the prophet Joel: “Return to me with your whole heart” (2:12). We should stop to think about the many blessings God has given us in the past, the present and will give to us in the future. The Church recommends three ways to return to God, prayer, almsgivin g and fasting.

Where Did The Distribution of Ashes Come From? It is certain that the custom of distributing the ashes to all the faithful came from a devotional imitation of the practice observed by public penitents, people who publically confessed their sins. During Lent, ancient Christians mourned and repented of sin, so it was appropriate for them to show their sincerity by having ashes placed on their foreheads. Putting ashes on the forehead is a sign the we are beginning a period of serious reflection, selfexamination, and spiritual redirection.

The Forty Days of Lent The giving of ashes to the faithful as a penitential sign of Lent first appeared in the tenth century. The practice was made universal by Pope Urban II in 1091 Ash Wednesday is also the day that marks the beginning of the Lenten fast. On Ash Wednesday and the three following days the scripture readings come from Matthew 6 and focus on prayer; fasting and almsgiving.

The term Mortification means Death to Self Using ashes to trace the sign of the cross on the forehead marks Catholics, Episcopalians, Lu therans, Methodists, Pres byterians, and Anglicans as being different. It makes us appear “dirty” a sign of sin. Ashes are also a symbol of dying to sin, self or selfishness.

The Words Used When Ashes Are Given “Remember, human, you are dust and to dust you will return.” [Gen. 3:19] “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.” God made the first human being by breathing life into dust, and without God, human beings are nothing more than dust and ashes. Ashes are also a reminder of the sign of the cross made on our foreheads by our parents, the priest and godparents at our baptism.

Do You Reject Satan, The Father of Sin & Prince of Darkness? What is your “devil.” Many devils belong to the “ism” family Alcoholism Consumerism Drugism Egoism Escapism Materialism militarism Narcissism Nationalism Racism Sexism Do you reject these “isms,” so you can move toward holiness?

On the First Sunday of Lent On the First Sunday of Lent the Church assists the catechumens, called the elect after the celebration of the Rite of Election, in their conversion by the celebration of the rite called Scrutinies. These ritual celebrations on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent are communal prayers celebrated for the elect to help them overcome the power of sin. The elect scrutinizes their lives and prays with confidence that God will forgive them and heal them.

Lent’s Focus Is On Easter Lent is a time of preparation. A time of remembering. A time of repentance A time of prayer A time of caring for others A time of focusing the Resurrection that took place Easter Sunday morning.

Prayer, Almsgiving and Fasting. Are you willing to pray for the courage to give to others and the strength to fast and pray? Can you give up a want or need in honor of the Lord? Are you willing to focus on others instead of yourself? At the end of Lent will you be a better person who humbly gives of your time, treasure and talent to benefit others? Christianity isn’t easy but does have eternal, everlasting, re wards.

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