Ash Wednesday: Ushering in Lent

By Margaret Oraza

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer. It is preceded by shrove Tuesday and falls on the first day of Lent in preparation for Easter. Traditionally it is observed by Western Christians.

Why do we celebrate Ash Wednesday?
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, from food, water and  festivities.

Why is it called Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday derives it’s name from the practice of repentance by  the symbolic application of ashes on the fore head of participant, to either reaffirm the words: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel or the dicturm” or “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

What does the Bible say about Ash Wednesday?
Actually, there is no mention of Ash Wednesday in the Bible, but there is a tradition of doing ashes as a sign of pernance that predates Jesus. In the old testament, Job was presented in a picture of: “In dust and Ashes” and there are other association of ashes and repentance in the books of Esther, Samuel and Jeremiah.

What is the significance of Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is important because it marks the start of the lenten period leading up to Easter, when Christians believe Jesus was resurrected. The ashes symbolises both death and repentance. During this period, Christians show repentance and mourning for their sins because they believe Christ died for them.

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