Home > 03 CATHOLIC CHURCH, Mass homily, special events > Ash Wednesday POLL … take it!

Ash Wednesday POLL … take it!

I know today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of 40 days of penitence and reflection, called Lent, to cleanse our soul by making atonement for the wrong things we have done and growing our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Since I’ve been in seminary the last 2 Ash Wednesday, I’m a little ignorant when I ask this, but … “Why are there so many people at Mass today?!?” Standing room only at the 6pm Mass I went to. Some churches even have 3 to 4+ different Mass times throughout the day.

Don’t get me wrong … it’s awesome to witness, but today isn’t even a holiday day of obligation. Why do so many Catholics feel the need to “get the ashes” today … what draws them today. Today, I even got a record number of 578 hits on this blog, with keywords like lent, fast, ashes, abstinence, & penance.

I’ve been debating possible reasons, from the supernatural movements of the soul toward God to practical whys.  Here is poll (in the sidebar of this page) with some possibilities that I hope people will be honest about.  — Please add more in comments.

What is the background on Ash Wednesday (in case you didn’t know)?

The ashes are made by burning the blessed palm fronds used on last year’s Palm Sunday and christened with Holy Water.

The marking of the forehead with a cross made of ashes reminds each of us that:

  1. Death comes to everyone
  2. We should be sad for their sins
  3. We must change ourselves for the better
  4. God made the first human being by breathing life into dust, and without God, human beings are nothing more than dust and ashes.
  5. It’s also a reminder of the mark of the cross made at baptism
  6. The cross of ashes may symbolize the way Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as atonement for sin replaces the Old Testament tradition of making burnt offerings to atone for sin.

When marking the sign of the cross on each believer’s forehead, the celebrant says, “Remember, man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” When leaving the observance, we carry the cross out into the world.

During Lent, each Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. It invites us to undertake spiritual discipline, deliberate abstinence from indulgent behavior involving food or luxuries, or finding ways to be of service to society.

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