Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's With the Ashes?

While on a layover in the Chicago O'Hare International Airport, we were asked this very question by a stranger. She noticed the black blotches on our foreheads and wondered what the heck it meant. Ben and I were journeying to Paris for our honeymoon and we left town on Ash Wednesday. The airport intercom in Chicago announced and invited its patrons to Ash Wednesday services being held in the airport chapel every hour on the hour.  We had enough time between flights to attend a service and receive ashes. Quite a beginning to Lent and our honeymoon! Anyway, this woman was curious about this weird marking. Who wouldn't be? If you hadn't seen it before, it is rather odd looking.

Well, Lent is upon us again. And, the question "What's with the ashes?" often comes up especially with children.  This website from Loyola Press provides an explanation and some other resources for education of children in the Catholic tradition.

And another site that explains some basic information about Lent and its history in the church.  And it helps us understand those three little words a bit better:  Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving.
All About Lent 

Finally, here is an Ash Wednesday prayer.

Father in Heaven,
Protect us in our struggle against evil.
As we begin the discipline of Lent,
make this season holy by our self-denial.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.
International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)

 Have a Happy and Productive Lent!

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