Ash Wednesday

You may be familiar with what Christians observe as the season of Lent. It begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days…. Well it’s actually a little longer if you examine the details.

Let’s take a factual look at Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent – the time before Easter.

A Deeper look at Ash Wednesday and Lent

Ash Wednesday itself is 46 days before Easter. It is always on a Wednesday, and is primarily observed by Catholics, however other Christian denominations may recognize the day as well. Lent is said to be “40” days because the Sundays don’t count. (There are 6 Sundays, not counting Easter Sunday)  Sundays are always considered Feast days in a Christian calendar so they do not count in the 40 days of Lent.

Ash Wednesday is rooted in the ancient Jewish tradition of penance (voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong. – I’ll add more about penance in a bit, it’s not as “punish” as it sounds) and fasting (abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.)

The ashes that are placed on the foreheads are a symbol of the dust from which God made us. They are made from blessed palm branches, from the previous year’s palm Sunday Mass.  As the priest or extraordinary minister applies the ashes they say: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  or “ Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Photo by Myriams-Fotos

Ashes can also be a symbol of death and grief. In this way, our grief over the division from God we cause when we sin. They help develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice. (This is also where penance comes in.)

After receiving ashes you don’t have to wear them all day, however many people do as they are a good opportunity to share about God and be reminded about the journey of lent that is beginning.

Penance During Lent

Many, during the time of Lent, for their offering of penance (the voluntary offering of self punishment) “give something up” like coffee, sweets, soda, etc. It can also be a time for DOING something extra. Perhaps making an effort to pray every day, or even a random act of kindness for 40 (46) days.

If you are a member of the Curriculum club, you can download our FREE Random Acts of Kindness Printable. You can use the pre-filled activities, or one of the “blanks” and write on your own.  I have also included a Religious version called My Lenten Journey. Use this to countdown the days before Easter. Record your Lenten sacrifice, or record your Random Acts of kindness. These are in the Pack called: 40 Days of Lent, A place to track your Journey.

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No Meat Ash Wednesday or Fridays

Ash Wednesday and  Good Friday during Lent are days in which Catholics (and some other Christians) abstain (do not eat) from meat as well as fast. Fasting means eating only 1 main meal.

Also on Fridays during lent  Catholics 14 years and older abstain from eating meat in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday.

Journaling to grow in faith

If you are looking to grow during Lent you may also consider Journaling. It happens to be one of my favorite things to do. They have Devotionals designed specifically for Lent:

Whatever you choose to do over the next 46 days, may your journey be blessed! Thank you for joining us here at Homeschool Holiday. I hope you will follow our blog, Subscribe to our newsletter and come back again – because there is always something to celebrate!

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