As a ‘cradle’ Roman Catholic, meaning that I was born into and brought up as a Roman Catholic person, dictates of this religion were and remain ever-present. They are not bad things by any means. They are fundamentally Christian. Christianity is a good thing, right? I have always held it as a fact in good standing, at least for myself.
As I choose to observe “Ash Wednesday,” strangers always ask me to explain what this is: what is the purpose of having a thumb print of literal ashes placed upon my forehead? This day, Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011, sightings of thousands upon thousands of people will now label themselves as Catholics due to this mark, this brand, in honor of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Father. Furthermore, this essay will attempt to clarify Ash Wednesday and answer your similar question/inquiry.
With goodness in mind, the dictionary definition of Lent, as a noun, is: “the period of forty weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter [Sunday] observed in Christian Churches [and homes] through fasting and penitence to commemorate Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness.” * Catholic masses are scheduled each year to celebrate this holy opportunity as a reminder of Jesus’ life. Before I get too far, let me share with you that a ‘Mass’ is “the celebration or service of the Eucharist, a sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church, consisting of a series of prayers and ceremonies.” *
“What’s a sacrament?” you ask. “What is the Eucharist?” I’ll let you look those up on your own!
Back to the topic of Lent, this Catholic observance “prepares the faithful to celebrate the mystery of Jesus Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. It is a time for reflection and spiritual renewal, a time to examine one’s relationship(s) with God and with others, other humans. The Church also calls Catholics to a spirit of penance, above all to practice the “Acts of Religion”: fasting, prayer and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.”** Overall, it is a reminder to be good, to be Christian-like, to keep your soul clean in order to go to heaven, just as simple as that!
My foundations for this religious belief among so so many others, have become easily understood – respected – since my infancy and upbringing. This is comfortable for me with its familiarity, helping me to discern right from wrong, good from evil. And the concept is maintained for at least ninety days out of any year: Ash Wednesday to that last day of Easter.
The ash print on the forehead? That’s a reminder to each of us that we will die, that we will die as Christians, that we are good people and have striven to follow in the example of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Savior of Mankind, the Redeemer, the Lord of Man, etcetera, etcetera.
I hope this essay helps discern your quandary. The attached photo display pertains to the Roman Catholic Calendar. Hopefully this will help you to further understand certain observances and Holy Days.
Happy Easter! A. K. Buckroth www.mydiabeticsoul.com