Ash Wednesday

Protestants don’t really observe this day that marks the beginning of Lent in a very significant way.  It comes and it goes largely unnoticed.  It begins the season of Lent that we also let slip by mostly unnoticed due to those past efforts to distance ourselves from Catholicism.  But times are changing and I think we are rethinking the reasons for that old distance and as we do so, it has narrowed from unbridgeable chasms to little cracks in the path of life that we can step over from time to time.

I am recognizing more and more my need for the celebration of seasons in my mostly unliturgical life.  I am beginning to recognize that I need physical type reminders  – signs of who I am and what my life needs to be about.  So, in the last few years, and especially since Wednesday morning is a regular morning of prayer, I have been concious of the beginning of Lent, of Ash Wednesday.  I haven’t gone so far as to dab my forehead with ashes although I think that it could have a powerful meaning for me, be a powerful reminder of my need for repentance, of my constant need for grace.

I have not ritually started “giving up” something for Lent.  Last year instead, I decided to concentrate instead on some aspect of my life that needs taking up in new ways.  I suppose that means giving up an old way in itself.  I’m not sure just what that will be yet but I know that my life gets very busy and I tend to concentrate on my needs rather than those of anyone else around me.  I need to conciously put others first and maybe that is exactly what I need to do for the next 40 days – and thereafter.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Ash Wednesday

  1. I was chatting with a non-observant Catholic at the office earlier this week, and he made a disparaging remark about the old legalistic rules governing what could and couldn’t be eaten during Lent, and how he was happy to be free of them. I guess the key is “voluntary”.

    A few years back our entire family decided to give up caffeine for Lent. We were just a few days into it when I bought a can of Coke for one of the kids on a shopping excursion, and was soundly reprimanded by another child when we met up a few minutes later. Oops.

  2. linealanoie

    I guess it is a discipline and we are not usually keen on that aspect of practicing our faith.

    Giving up some food that I like has never seemed appropriate for me, maybe food is not the big issue for me, although it would be something to cause me to remember – and hopefully, like you, not forget.

  3. Times change and the significance of giving stuff up changes too.

    In the case of Phil’s Catholic friend, you have to ask, do rules bring life or death? In this case they don’t seem to have brought life, maybe as much because of the person, their experiences and expectations as much as anything.

    Linea, your comment about not observing lent as a rejection of Catholicism, that’s not something I have observed over the last 40+ years in the UK, but it’s also not something that one would particularly take up either. As for me, I just don’t do the church calendar thing. Other things create meaning to my life.