Today Is The First Day of Lent

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season is used to get ready for Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday always falls 46 days before Easter. Since Easter falls on a different date each year, Ash Wednesday does, too. Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, but attending mass and receiving ashes on this day marks the beginning of the Lenten season. This special ritual gives us a connection with the beginning of a very special season with God.

palms_cross1Do you wonder where the ashes come from. The ashes are made by burning the blessed palms from the previous year on Palm  Sunday. Members of the church return any palms that they took home so that they can be burned. After the  ashes are blessed, they are sprinkled with holy water. We receive them when the priest dips his right thumb in the ashes and, making the on each person’s forehead, says, something  similar to, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return”.

Ash WednesdayThe ashes are to remind us that during lent we are called to be sorry for our sins. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. By leaving the ashes on our foreheads all day, we show our humility.

Most Churches ask us to fast and abstain from meat. Fasting means people over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 are to eat only one complete meal and two smaller ones during the day, with no snacks. People who are over the age of 14 are required to not eat any meat, or any food made with meat, on Ash Wednesday.

Jesus fastingFasting and abstinence are a form of penance or being sorry for our sins. Fasting also helps us in our spiritual lives. Jesus fasted for forty days and He didn’t eat anything. We are only asked to eat one large meal. We do get to eat.

Instead of concentrating on fasting, we can use the time to make spiritual goals to reach before Easter. Spiritual goals are changes you make in your life to be a better person. You can do this instead of or along with giving up a special food item for Lent . There are many ways to  discover your Lenten goal. Tomorrow, I will give you some questions to ask yourself before you choose a goal for Jesus. Join me in this Lenten Journey.