That we get through ONE ASH WEDNESDAY WITHOUT BEING SUBJECTED TO “ASHES”?
“Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return”
– Book of Genesis 3:19
The entire liturgy of Ash Wednesday helps us to focus on this fundamental truth of faith, and stimulates us to undertake a decisive journey of personal renewal. We must change our way of thinking and acting, fixing our eyes on the face of the crucified Christ and making his Gospel our daily rule of life. “Be converted and believe in the Gospel”: May this be our Lenten program, while we enter an atmosphere of prayerful listening to the Spirit.”
– Pope John Paul II – General Audience. Vatican City. Ash Wednesday – February 28, 2001
Day By Day Through Lent: Reflections, Prayers, Practices
Author: Fr. Daneil Lowery
Journey To Easter: Spiritual Reflections for the Lenten Season
Author: Pope Benedict XVI
Author: Magnificat Magazine
Author: G. K. Chesterton
Author: Fr. Francis Martin
Lent and Easter with Catherine Doherty
Author: Catherine Doherty
The Essential Lenten Handbook: A Daily Companion
Author: The Redemptorists
A Family Journey With Jesus Through Lent: Prayers and Activities for Each Day
Author: Angela Burrin
“The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works). ”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church 1438
“Fasting and Penance were used by the ancients to express contrition, and to assist them in controlling their natural urges. This message of humble self-abnegation runs counter to our culture’s emphasis on satisfying any and every desire we might feel. The Church’s penitential traditions are intended to help us become more conscious of – and more contrite about – our sins, as well as help us conquer our impulses and desires as the holy ones did in ancient times. ”
–Gregory Oatis “Catholic Doctrine in Scripture”
Prayer Before a Crucifix – a traditional Lenten prayer
to impress upon my heart
lively sentiments of faith,
hope and charity,
with true repentance for my sins
and a most firm desire of amendment:
whilst with deep affection and grief of soul
I consider within myself
and mentally contemplate Thy five most precious Wounds,
having before mine eyes that which David, the prophet,
long ago spoke in Thine own person concerning Thee,
my Jesus: “They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones.”
It should. This is the earliest date for Ash Wednesday since
A little more information on determining the date of Easter (and therefore, the date of Ash Wednesday which falls 46 days before Easter).
The basic rule for determining the date for Easter is that it is on the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after March 21st. The beginning date, March 21st, was chosen because it is usually the vernal equinox (generally, the first day of Spring). This means that the earliest day of the year that Easter can occur is, of course, March 22nd. Also, because of the regularity of lunar cycles, it can never occur later than April 25th.
Now the ecclesiastical full moon can actually be at a different time than the actual astronomical full moon at least for various locations. This is a result of that confusing confluence of time and space that is known as the international date line. The full moon, at locations near the date-line can occur at the same time on two different days. Be that as it may, the ecclesiastics, perhaps wisely, ignore this anomaly.
The current formula for Easter’s date was first developed at the Council of Nicea (convened by Constantine the Great) in 325 A.D. But it was then applied to the Julian Calendar (developed under the Roman Empire). Because there was no leap year to keep the actual year aligned with the calendar year, the date for the vernal equinox would seem to advance at a steady rate through the calendar over the years. Had not Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 executed a reform of the calendar that kept it steadily aligned with the actual astronomical year, Easter, being based on the vernal equinox, would also have lost all consistency of date.
If you like math, then here is a site that gives you all the numbers behind figuring out the date of Easter for both the Roman and Orthodox churches.
You may be interested in getting some Lenten reading now since Lent is approaching so fast.