Ash Wednesday: Beginning of the Lent

March 30, 2022

by Kimberly Deaño

Every year, Lenten is one of the holiday seasons which people deemed as an important part of their lives. What is the Lenten season? Lenten is a religious observation in which people commemorate the sacrifices of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection for 40 days. At this moment, three pillars are being practiced traditionally: 1) prayer (justice towards God), 2) fasting (justice towards self), and 3) Almsgiving (justice towards neighbors. The story of the Lent goes from Jesus having a fast and praying for 40 days in the desert before doing his mission from God. There, he was tempted by Satan several times but he persevered in avoiding all of it. As the Lenten season begins, Ash Wednesday comes first according to the Jewish tradition.

This year, Ash Wednesday is held on the 2nd of March. Christian churches hold services for this day, from mass to marking a cross made from ashes on the forehead of the Christians who attended. The ash being a symbol of the dust which God had made us from. A priest or a pastor will say the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” while giving a cross mark, and then they will speak the words, “Repent and believe in gospel”.

Ash Wednesday takes place as a day of penitence and fasting. Most people make this day as rest day and spend the time at home, praying and resting. Most people go to church and receive their cross mark and also to attend the mass. Nowadays, there are pastors who offer to passerby in public, especially for those who have work that they cannot go to churches. For those who are sick, such as the elderly, and for children, priests or a family member will deliver the ashes to them.

What are the ashes made of? The ashes that were given for Ash Wednesday are made from the palms blessed from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration. Clergy have christened the ashes using Holy water and incense. The ashes not only symbolize dust, but also the penance and repentance. It is a sign to remind us how God’s grace and mercy always save us, especially for those who have repentant hearts and for those who call unto Him. This ashes will help us to remember the sacrifices of our God and will help us grow and evolve our humbleness within ourselves and unto other people, and surrendering ourselves to God.

The importance of this Lenten season and Ash Wednesday as its beginning is to seek mercy to God, for 40 days, repenting, praying and reflecting on our actions and sins we have committed over our life before Easter Sunday, in which is said to be the day that Jesus Christ have been resurrected, defeating death and hope of salvation. This is the season in which vital for us to have a connection with God and strengthening our faith in Him.

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account. And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there. I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-20