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Showing posts from February 17, 2017

Why Ashes, and Why Give Up things for Lent

Ash Wednesday - this year, falling on March 1st - is later in the calendar year than in many years, so I wanted to take advantage of the extra time to write a couple of "pre-Lent" messages about Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent.  Two of the most frequently asked questions about Ash Wednesday and Lent are  1) Why do we put ashes on our foreheads?  and  2) Why do we give up things for Lent? More about #2 next week, but a short answer to #1 is that we put ashes on our foreheads because  ashes are a sign of mortality and penitence.  "Mortality" means, bluntly, that at some point or another, we will die. "Penitence" means taking stock of one's misdoings.  Ash Wednesday, it is said, is a kind of Christian  Yom Kippur  - and as Rabbi Alexis Roberts says of that day,  "Many say we're practicing to be dead: looking over our values, accomplishments, and failures as though it was all over and now we have to make an accounting."  "T