If you are Catholic, you most likely are familiar with the terms. Those of us outside the papal realm of spirituality have no idea what the words mean let alone how to properly say them. Basically, welcome to the season of Lent.
Today is Ash Wednesday and for those of you feeling a little left out, here is a quick run down for you on it’s relevance:
– The first day of lent
– Also known as Day of Ashes (dies cinerum, day of ashes, in the Roman Missal)
– The Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday (50 days before Easter)
– Ashes are made from burned palm fronds (leftovers from last year’s Palm Sunday)
– Ash Wednesday is forty days before Good Friday
– Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation
– Is the day after Shrove Tuesday
There. Feeling smarter already? Now. The significance to your daily life. Here’s the deal. In the Bible, Ashes signify mourning. And too, when in angst, people would tear their clothes and put ashes on their head (i.e.:1 Samuel 4:12, Esther 4:1).
Ashes also symbolize how the sinner feels when he stands before and acknowledges the all-just God.
And too, there is a verse in the book of Genesis that reminds us of the shortness of our lives, “”Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.”
So there you have it. Ash Wednesday brings to remembrance these things:
1. You and I are sinners (saved by the action of Christ on the cross)
2. God is all powerful, just, and holy.
3. Life is short. Make the most of it. Not just physically, and mentally, but spiritually.
May you take this next 40 days of Lent to think perhaps on these very things. With that, if you see folks today with a dark smudge on their foreheads (in the shape of a cross), you will at least now not walk up to them and say, “Hey, you have something on your forehead.”