Episcopal Lotus Flower in Bloom

Spirituality, Liturgy and the Tao of Inner Peace

Ash Wednesday… What’s up with that?

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


I find that many celebrate fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras but much fewer participate in Ash Wednesday and the Lent in the following 40 days.  Maybe part of that is that they don’t really understand the meaning or reason for Ash Wednesday and  Lent so here is some information. I welcome you to join me tonight at St. Thomas Episcopal Church @6:00 pm if you would like to participate in an Ash Wednesday service.

*I gathered this from www.sharefaith.com
Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is one of the principal holy days for the Western Church. Most commonly observed by Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Lutherans, Ash Wednesday falls on the seventh Wednesday before Easter (usually around February 9). Ash Wednesday begins a season of fasting and repentance (commonly known as Lent) in preparation for the Easter celebration.

The Origins of Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday’s origins are tied to its history and the time of year during which it occurs. It follows the season of Epiphany, which culminates with Shrove Tuesday, which is also known as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). The solemn proceedings that occur on Ash Wednesday bring the focus back to the sacrifice of Christ and the mission of the Church. The observance most likely comes from the biblical Day of Atonement. In Leviticus 16, the Lord establishes an annual day of repentance for the Israelites as a lasting ordinance for all their generations. Since the blood of Jesus represents atonement, the heart of Ash Wednesday is a humbling of oneself through fasting and prayer.

On this day, Christians come before a priest to receive the sign of the cross, marked in ashes on their foreheads. Over the next month, they are encouraged to fast, pray, and seek repentance for their sins. Reflection upon one’s life during the previous year receives extra attention, and a greater commitment to God and the Church is offered.

This ceremony originated around the eighth century and extends back to the custom during biblical times of people humbling themselves with sackcloth and ashes. The prophet Daniel speaks of seeking the Lord for the release of his people from Babylonian exile with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (Daniel 9:3). Jonah 3:6 states: “When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.”


What happens at an Ash Wednesday service?  *http://catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholidays/p/Ash_Wednesday.htm

During Mass, the ashes which give Ash Wednesday its name are distributed. The ashes are made by burning the blessed palms that were distributed the previous year on Palm Sunday; many churches ask their parishioners to return any palms that they took home so that they can be burned.

After the priest blesses the ashes and sprinkles them with holy water, the faithful come forward to receive them. The priest dips his right thumb in the ashes and, making the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead, says, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return” (or a variation on those words).


The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

I hope this helps my brothers and sisters out there understand more about this holy day.



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This entry was posted on February 18, 2015 by .
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