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Here are four things you should know about this day.
1) Origin Of Using Ashes
Many people on this day have ashes placed on their forehead at a church. Between A.D. 200-500 it was know as a sacred ceremony where people celebrated communion with Jesus as well as others. Those that were guilty of sins such as murder, adultery and more weren’t allowed to take part in this event.
Around the 10th century, the practice of acting out these words, “Let us change our garments to sackcloth and ashes,” allowed everyone to take part in the ritual despite if they sinned or not. In 1091, Pope Urban II said that “on Ash Wednesday everyone, clergy and laity, men and women, will receive ashes,” since that day it’s been going on.
2) Words Spoken When Ashes Are Applied
The words at one point when putting ashes on the forehead were, “Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” In the 1960’s a second phrase that came from the New Testament saying, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” was used.
These were words from Jesus when he began teaching as well as healing. Each of these phrases serves purposes and call for those that are faithful to live their Christian lives.
3) Traditions Leading Up To Ash Wednesday
Some might call one tradition of indulgence as Christians are known to eat more than usual as they prepare for a season of fasting or getting rid of certain foods they might give up during Lent. These foods given up differ between cultures and the tradition is known as “Mardi Gras,” or Fat Tuesday.
Another tradition right before Ash Wednesday is the practice of confessing sins to a priest and receiving a penance that would happen all during Lent. The name “Shrove Tuesday” means to hear a confession and place a penance on someone.
In either traditions on Ash Wednesday, Christians go right into Lenten practice.
4) Poetry Inspired By Ash Wednesday
A poem written by T.S. Eliot titled “Ash Wednesday” reaffirmed traditional Christian faith as well as worship.
If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.
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