"Following the example of the Nine vites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told:
"Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return." "
You can reference this and more here. Also, read Jonah, Chapter 3 in the Old Testament for a literal reference within the bible.
I have received ashes most Ash Wednesdays from the time I was born. I have always thought the symbolism and tradition to be one of the most powerful in the Catholic faith. The day marks the beginning of Lent, a time in which most Christians prepare with penance, reflection, and fasting for Easter. It's when we give things up that we like all in the name of a little sacrifice that by all means is modest in comparison to what was sacrificed for us. Jesus was the man.
Ashes are intended to be somewhat humbling, not embarrassing, but humbling. There is a difference. I can remember Ash Wednesday growing up in school. I didn't think about being embarrassed about what was on my forehead because everyone had been marked just like me. I can also remember starting college and when Ash Wednesday rolled around thinking, "I wish I was back in school where everyone had ashes on their foreheads." It was a growing experience. Now, I somewhat enjoy peoples faces when I am somewhere in public on Ash Wednesday. There are always a few double takes, stares, and snickers. There are also the random nods from strangers whose foreheads are smudged as well.
So, to come back to where I started with this blog. I went to Target over lunch with my mother...
and yes, I know there's "black stuff" on my forehead. I don't mind the staring for a lunch hour, I'm really kind of proud. I feel special. I think that's how it was really intended to make us feel. Special, chosen, connected, purposed. I've enjoyed reading peoples posts on Facebook for the past week or so pondering what they should give up for Lent. I like that it is on so manys peoples minds. It feels good to do something "good" for 40 days. If we could just get to 365... Baby steps!
More food and fun on the blog tomorrow...
Xo-Wife of Wright