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Ash Wednesday

By February 25, 2009Uncategorized

Lent begins today, marked by Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent’s way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. An ancient example of one expressing one’s penitence is found in Job 42:3-6. Some say this is pagan tradition, but I say fooey, much of any organized religion has pagan symbolism and roots vested in the religious practices previously held by any populous.

“In the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance—a day of contemplating one’s transgressions. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer also designates Ash Wednesday as a day of fasting. In other Christian denominations these practices are optional, with the main focus being on repentance. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Roman Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are permitted to consume only one full meal, which may be supplemented by two smaller meals, which together should not equal the full meal. Some Roman Catholics will go beyond the minimum obligations demanded by the Church and undertake a complete fast or a bread and water fast. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of abstinence from meat (for those Catholics age 14 and over), as are all Fridays in Lent. Some Roman Catholics continue fasting during the whole of Lent, as was the Church’s traditional requirement, concluding only after the celebration of the Easter Vigil.”

I’m not this good. Like many Catholics, I tend to traditionally give something up, usually something indulgent. This year I’ve chosen a bad habit. I’ve been horrible about biting my nails since childhood, and starting today, all nibbling will cease in observance. May God have mercy on my cuticles.

{source: Wikipedia}{image via msnbc} —->(Yes I know it’s John Paul II, but I’m not a fan of Ratzinger, so …there you have it.)


  • Samantha says:

    It is official. We have to be long lost twins. I bit my nails since I could remember right up until January 1, 2007. Yep, I can remember the exact day. I gave it up as a New Years Resolution because I wanted to look prettier for J.D. Plus, I bit them so badly they would throb/bleed sometimes. Enough info right? So good luck! I know you can do it…it’s so worth it to see pretty hands when I look down now and not the hands I had since I was a kid.

  • kwilcox says:

    But will your giving up nail biting help you to focus your thoughts on God’s love and reflect on capital-L-life during the lenten season? I mean, I guess you will be able to concentrate more without the chomping of dead tissue… but the traditionalist in me still says: if you’re going to give something trivial up, why not go the next step and replace it with something better! Like, every time you’re tempted to bite a nail, you write a note to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Or read a scripture. Or give the next person you see a hug. 🙂

  • kwilcox says:

    Perhaps it’s supposed to be less about finding the things you already do that you shouldn’t and more about seeking the things you don’t do that you should. <3

  • kwilcox says:

    The beautiful thing is that, if we’re all born of God, then being open to God kind of ends up meaning being open to mankind and all of its glories and blemishes (nail-biting included, I suppose). I love to listen to people discuss their experiences in pursuit of faith; it helps me understand my own beliefs better. If you ever just feel the need to bounce something off of someone, feel free to get in touch with me. I charge $0.00 flat rate for religious rambling.

    It’s four months for us on Friday!!!!!!

  • kwilcox says:

    Thanks for your insight, Jes! Knowing less and listening more… it’s something I talk about a lot but really suck at doing. I hope you didn’t take my thoughts here or on my blog to mean that I believe what you are doing during lent is not enough/not right. On the contrary, I think it’s perfect, and I love your reflection on its purpose. I just enjoy cooking food for thought!