Lent, Ash Wednesday and Me

Growing up in New York City I had a lot of Roman Catholic friends. On Ash Wednesday some of these friends would come to school with ashes on their foreheads. Being an Episcopalian I really did not understand this Christian tradition. Perhaps you do not understand it. Here is an excerpt from the wiki about it:
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days (40 days not counting Sundays) before Easter. It is a moveable fast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter. It can occur as early as February 4 (February 5 on leap years) or as late as March 10. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered after the palms or Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned.
I have never received ashes on this day but have observed Lent. Last year I gave up shaving.. I know it seems lame but it was amazing how this really helped me to pray more.. each time I touched my face I was reminded to pray.. it surprised me how this helped me to pray. For me that is the heart of 'giving something up for Lent' - does it help you to pray?

I plan to observe Lent this year. Are you planning to observe it?


  1. Like you, Bobert, I didn't grow up Catholic nor with the practice of recognizing Lent. Lately, though, I've found that many of my non-Catholic friends are also recognizing Lent as an opportunity to separate themselves from something of importance or enjoyment in order to devote themselves to that which is eternally important. That seems good to me. I'm in.

  2. Does it help me to pray? This is a good criteria for a Lenten "penance." Thanks.

  3. I was raised Catholic, but left the church when I was 15 and became a 'born-again' Christian. I haven't observed Lent for any of those years since, but have been thinking about it this year. I guess if we use it to draw closer to our Lord, it would be good.

    My hubs and I have decided we will get through the Bible this year. I bought a DVD with the Bible being read. We are into 1 Kings today, and it is so neat doing this with him.

    Amazon has just about every version, but we are using the KJV.

    If I were really serious about Lent, I'd probably give up TV, or blogs, but I don't think I'll do either.

  4. Not shaving, what a great idea, for me, though it would be a pleasure. I think I am going to practice times of contemplative prayer, something I am seeking to experience and practice, and to keep the fragrant offering of Christ before my heart.

  5. When I was in college, I would pledge to give up alcohol for Lent (but, as one of my friends joked, at some point along the way I always gave up Lent for alcohol.)

    The past few years I've done "Lent on Facebook" where I would post a prayer each day. (Interesting, this year several friends are giving up Facebook for Lent).

    Overall, any discipline that helps bring God into your life more seems like a good idea. This year I've decided to avoid wasting time on "political blogs" and write a short note of encouragement to someone each day.

    While I have not received ashes in years, the prayer "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" is a good reminder that this world is just temporary... and our souls are eternal.

  6. I like the no shaving thing, what a creative way to remind yourself to pray!
    This is the first year I am really observing Lent. I am doing an online devotional aimed at helping people to consider injustice around the world and praying for the oppressed.
    I've learned over the past year that when you make something a habit it is much easier to continue to incorporate it into everyday life...hoping more prayer becomes a habit, then a way of life after the next 6 weeks!


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