Today is the 1st day of Lent, a special day in the Christian religion. It marks a time of prayer and fasting, primarily for Catholics but most other Christian based faith group also participate. It leads up to Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The symbol of the cross (Commemorating the death of Christ) is placed on the forehead to indicate that we, as people, will one day return to ash. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” This marks the end of the physical body but not the soul. On Wednesday we are to go to a service, normally somber to remember the last supper, receive the ashes and proudly wear them to show our faith.
As we mark this time we are also supposed to give up something we enjoy (but is probably a bad habit) for between 40 and 46 days. This should lead up to Easter when as with Jesus, we should be renewed in our faith. There is nothing said that after the 46 days we cannot go back to whatever it is we gave up, but it would probably be well to give up whatever it is we chose forever.
The ashes are to be made up from the palms used for the prior season. They are to be burned, the ashes retained for use on Ash Wednesday. Palms were laid at Jesus’ feet as he entered the city of Jerusalem, the symbol here was that he was a kind and gentle King of men. He rode into the city on a donkey, not arriving in a chariot or making some grand entrance.
These 40-46 days lead to the highs and lows of Jesus’ time here on earth. From the cheers to the jeers and back again to cheers. He came for mankind, died for mankind and returned for mankind to save us from ourselves. If you are a Christian this is a very important and sacred time.
How to celebrate – Go to church and get ashes as a symbol of your love for Christ. Be humble and thoughtful. Say special prayers for all those you know.