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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash-Wednesday: " ...And to dust you shall return."

" Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris "

February 18 is Ash Wednesday, which kicks off the first day of Lent and it’s the sign that tells us that Easter approaches. The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.
Ashes are ceremonially placed on the heads of Christians on Ash Wednesday, either by being sprinkled over their heads or, in English-speaking countries, more often by being marked on their foreheads as a visible cross.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes ....that comes from dead people...NOT! they are made from palm branches blessed on the previous year's Palm Sunday, and placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.

" It is fast from the comfort of an easy life, low resistance, herd mentality, pleasure for pleasure. And above all, it is fast from power, and the glory complacency [... ] fast from selfishness, callousness and inhumanity. " It is the opposite of the Carnival season.

During Mardi Gras the world goes upside down. What do I mean? It’s simple really, some people wear masks to hide their identity and hiding means doing what you want without being judged by others, we wear different clothes even costumes and we become different people. The people, who wear more formal/serious clothes, will wear colors and relaxed outfits. Women will show alot of skin and Men will look at them without feeling guilty. We make fun of the church, politicians and public personalities in our society during this time because it is permitted.

In the early Middle Ages the Catholic Church proposed an etymology Carnival: the meat-levare in Vulgar Latin, meaning 'give up meat' (which was precisely the mandatory requirement for all people for all Fridays of Lent). Later another etymology which is currently handled in the popular area emerged: the Italian word carnevale, which meant the time during which you could eat. So Lent is the opposite of this, you don’t have to eat meat; you have to restrain yourself from eating and drinking with no control. Also it’s a time to control your body (sex -clothes) we get liberated during carnival and we satisfy our carnal body but during Lent, it is time to take care of our soul. 

The phrase from God to Adam: "Remember, man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return." reminds him (and us) that we should not forget of our soul, our body is a temporary home/temple, we can do what ever we want with it but our soul is eternal and we should take care of it.

  • Here are three things to know about the day.

It marks first day of the 40 days of Lent, a roughly six-week period (not including Sundays) dedicated to reflection, prayer and fasting in preparation for Easter. It ends on Holy Thursday, the fifth day of Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) that marks the Last Supper. In addition to certain rules about foods and fasting, many Christians (and even non-Christians) abstain from additional foods, luxury or material goods or certain activities and habits.

The ashes, applied in the shape of a cross, are a symbol of penance, mourning and mortality.

Have a happy Lent !

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