Today is Ash Wednesday, a Christian religious ritual practiced mostly in the Catholic Church. This day marks the beginning of the Lent season. Lent is celebrated by repenting (turning from sin) and fasting (going without food, internet, TV, etc.). This time of reflection and change of mind goes until Easter. Easter is in March this year. Many practitioners of Lent are seeking to get closer to God and see changes in certain areas of life. What do ashes have to do with these things? Ashes are a symbol of when something is burned up. Ashes are representing sin that needs to be gone, so they are placed on the forehead as a reminder. Here are some facts about Ash Wednesday:
- “The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year.”1
- “The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense.”2
- “For Christians, the marking on the forehead with ash marks the commitment to Jesus Christ and God. They wanted to show God that they were sorry for the wrong things they had done in the past year.”3
- “Using ashes to mark the cross on the believer’s forehead symbolizes that through Christ’s death and resurrection, all Christians can be free from sin.”3
A believer in Christ Jesus who does not adhere to Ash Wednesday or Lent may wonder what is the point or if this is necessary. It is not a commandment from God to keep this ritual, but the activities of repenting and fasting are very much a part of the Christian faith. Jesus said, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”(Matthew 17:21) Some areas of the believer’s life will not change unless he or she spends time practicing abstinence of food or some other way that God leads. The time leading to the Easter celebration is awesome in making extra efforts to worship Jesus in special devotion. Challenge: Consider how to increase your devotion!
Please see the referenced websites below: