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Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days (40 days not counting Sundays) before Easter and derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are typically gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the minister who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his or her own forehead and then on those of congregants.

The act echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ashes over one’s head to signify repentance before God (as related in the Bible). The priest or minister says one of the following when applying the ashes:

Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. -Genesis 3:19
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. -Mark 1:15
Repent, and hear the good news. -Mark 1:15

The act of spreading the ashes is supposed to be an outward sign of an inward action of repentance. But, like all traditions, how frequently it has replaced what it was supposed to represent.

Where is your heart today? I’m not suggesting that you follow any given tradition, but rather, turn your heart to the Lord today and focus on your relationship with Him. Are there things for which you should repent? Then take the opportunity today to take it to Father God and leave it with Him. Let the Blood and forgiveness of Jesus cleanse you and help you build relationship with Him.

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One Response to “Ash Wednesday”

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