Lent and Ash Wednesday
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, the Church begins the liturgical season of Lent with Ash Wednesday.
Lent is a 40-day liturgical season highlighted by three traditional Lenten disciplines: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, “which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others” (CCC 1434).
Pope John Paul II offered this insight about the power of prayer:
Fasting is an ancient tradition. Many look at fasting as the first commandment received by Adam, “you are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad.” Gn 2:16-17.
Isaiah encourages fasting from negative behaviors in his section on true fasting (ch. 58). Jesus entered the desert for a period of prayer and fasting during which we are told He was tempted by the devil (Mt 4, Mk 1, Lk 4).
Throughout Lent, there are days of fast and abstinence. Churchyear.net offers assistance.
Almsgiving was highlighted by Pope Benedict XVI in his Lenten Message of 2008. He highlights the purpose of almsgiving, that it “helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor's needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness.”
Lent invites us to reflect upon our lives and ask where we can improve and how prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and assist in our improvement.
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Ash Wednesday The Old Testament is full of references to ashes: Jer 6:26, Is 58:6, Dn 9:3, Jon 3:6, Jdt 4:11, 1Mc 3:47.
Jesus refers to ashes in Mt 11:21, Lk 10:13. Traditionally, the ashes for Ash Wednesday come for the previous year’s burnt palm.
Ashes remind us
Ash Distribution on Feb. 13, 2013