Clergy Notes — Sunday, February 26, 2017

This coming week Lent begins. On Ash Wednesday we will be offering three services, all with the imposition of ashes: 7:30 am, 12:10 pm, and High Mass at 6:30 pm.

Ash Wednesday is the day when Christians stare death in the face and remember where they came from in terms of God’s creation, and that God doesn’t hate what God made. Ash Wednesday can be freeing. We move through the liturgy and acknowledge that humans are sinful. Fact. Turn on the news, humans are sinful, individually, in secret and corporately on mass. God sees it all.

On Ash Wednesday when we are physically marked with ashes and remember that we will physically die one day. We are also reminded that God sees everything, and with that in mind we are free to let go of the things that prevent us from growing closer to God. This first day of Lent, offers the opportunity to figure out what we need to let die in our lives in order to grow closer to God.

Here are three things you ought to know about Ash Wednesday:

“What’s the purpose of Ash Wednesday?

It marks first day of the 40 days of Lent, a roughly six-week period (not including Sundays) dedicated to reflection, prayer and fasting in preparation for Easter. It ends on Holy Thursday, the fifth day of Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) that marks the Last Supper. In addition to certain rules about foods and fasting, many Christians (and even non-Christians) abstain from additional foods, luxury or material goods or certain activities and habits.

Where do the ashes some people put on their face come from?

They’re obtained from the burning of the palms of the previous Palm Sunday, which occurs on the Sunday before Easter, and applied during services. Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ return to Jerusalem, when people waved palm branches to celebrate his arrival. The ashes are typically mixed with Holy Water or oil.

What do the ashes mean?

The ashes, applied in the shape of a cross, are a symbol of penance, mourning and mortality…There aren’t any particular rules about how long the ashes should be worn, but most people wear them throughout the day as a public expression of their faith and penance.”

Peace, Deacon Lucy   Accessed Feb. 9, 2017