Interesting Facts About Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season in the Church calendar.
It comprises of 40 days excluding Sundays which is not included because it is the day of the Lord’s resurrection (Lord’s day) from Easter Sunday. The number “40” is a special number in Christendom which also correlates with the number of days Christ spent in the wilderness. This day is usually marked by Episcopal/Orthodox churches with Mass/Service.
Key Things about Ash Wednesday
It is a solemn day not a feast hence it is WRONG to say “Happy Ash Wednesday”. In this write-up, I will be pointing out the necessary things we need to know about this period from a very un-hypocritical angle. Yes, because hypocrisy is suddenly becoming a religion on its own, and trust me, it seems to be the religion with the highest number of adherents.
Ash gotten from burning last year’s palm fronds is usually applied on the foreheads of the faithful on this day. It signifies the following:
1. Time for sober reflections: In biblical Jewish practice, a sinner pours ash on his body and puts on sack Cloth to seek the forgiveness of God (Jonah 3:5-6). Likewise, on this day we mourn our going away from God’s commands and seek his forgiveness. That is why the Priest/deacon when putting the ashes says the words “Repent and believe in the Gospel”.
2. To remind you that the earth is not your final home:
The Priest/deacon may also say the words, “DUST YOU ARE AND DUST YOU SHALL RETURN”. This serves as a reminder not to be carried away by things of this word and to remember the things of the world to come in which you will be judged by the decisions you made here on earth.
The Cardinal Points of Lent
2. Fasting & Abstinence
3. Absolute Repentance
1. PRAYERS: Praying is the act of communicating with God. On this day and other days from today, make it a point of duty to communicate quietly with God like a child to a loving Father. Pray as much as possible today as that differentiates your fasting from an ordinary weight loss exercise. Seek for the forgiveness of your sins and pray for His grace to be a better Christian. A nice way to do it is to set a time and commit to it so as not to be carried by work e.g. hourly or every 3 hours etc. Attending Mass/service is also a form of prayer and especially receiving the Holy communion today. Remember Jesus’ teaching on prayer as he said in Matt 6:5-8 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on the street corners to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is with you in secret; and your father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the Gentiles do, for they imagine that the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them.
2. FASTING/ ABSTINENCE: This is simply the tendency of denying yourself some pleasurable things of the world, this has to do with keeping away from some pleasurable things not necessarily food alone. Fasting or abstinence can come in form, the most important thing is that it denies the person some worldly pleasures so as to focus and communicate with God. Now in this part of the world hypocrisy is already a religion on its own, with so many followers, yes I say so, because we tend to be hypocritical when it comes to matters like this, you must not let the whole know that you are fasting, NO, that’s not the aim, you do go about in sackcloths and wearing mourning looks like the Pharisees and the Sadducees! The period of lent also talks about abstinence from eating meat especially on this day, now it is pertinent to understand the history of this, before now Christianity originated borrowing many doctrines and traditions of the Jews, now in the olden Jewish tradition, some things where considered as unclean, meat with blood stains were considered unclean and wasn’t expected to be consumed by people who see themselves as holy. Now that doesn’t mean that eating meat today is an abomination, no! it is simply about denying yourself of some pleasurable things of life.
3. Absolute Repentance: Now repentance should come not just during this period alone, but after this period, the repentance should be a continual thing, it should not just be for this period of 40 days, NO, as a Christian, the strive to continually live in righteousness should not be a seasonal thing. Don’t quit drinking beer today, only to buy a create and some bottles to celebrate Easter after the 40days period, this is not repentance!! I used the word ‘’absolute’’ to actually buttress my point on the duration of the repentance, it’s not just meant to be a day’s job, no, it should be an everyday activity starting from today.
4. Almsgiving: This is one of the ingredients that make up this holy season, now the season of lent should not just be a season of self-centeredness alone, yes, you have prayed for yourself, you have fasted for your sins, you are even making steps to repent from your ways, all these are very good, but then it can be better when you shift the focus away a bit to your neighbor, by giving alms to the needy. This is the fastest way to reduce the wrath of God and to get indulgence for your sins, but as human beings most times we don’t see this part, we tend to go to church frequently, pray every hour of the day, and yet still that gate man worker of ours have no shoes to wear, his daughter has no food to eat for the afternoon, but then you are a Christian! What is the need of your Christianity when it doesn’t reflect on the lives of others?