Did you see the ash on her?

I was born and raised Catholic, baptized, first communion and all that jazz.  I’m what I would consider a cradle Catholic which is a term I came across during our pre-cana in preparation of getting married in the Catholic church.  This term was used by one of our mentor couples, the husband to be exact who claimed he just did and went along with everything since he was a child and didn’t really understand why or what for.  His family was catholic, they went to church and he followed the traditions and that was that.  His wife, however, converted to Catholicism when they decided to get married and because she was making this choice she put her heart and soul into it and became as knowledgeable as she could on the subject.  If there was a Catholicism Trivia Pursuit game she would win it, you know?

Anyway, since I’ve been married and had these wonderful experiences with Catholicism, I’ve tried to go out of my way a bit to learn more about what I believe in.  Below I have put together a little Q and A on what today is and why we do it.  It’s okay if you don’t want to read it.  You will rarely ever hear or read something about politics or religion from me so take it for what it’s worth.

On another note, I was enlightened when I read Stephanie’s  blog today about opening up with real issues in relationships and often times it’s hard, but I’m gonna share this one today for her.  My husband is not catholic, I do not nor have I ever expected him to become catholic but I do hope one day he will open his heart more when it comes to attending church with me.  He has, he will, but I really want him to want it.  I am even open to attending another church of his liking every other week, it’s not something that has to be all catholic or nothing.  We will raise our children catholic but they will also have a choice, I will not hold them to being what I am just because I am.  There was a time I attended a different church and I enjoyed that and felt nothing but positivity in my life during that time as well.  I just hope that he will help me set the example for them.  I will do it alone, but I don’t want to.  We do pray together, and when he’s ready to make that weekly commitment, I will be there.  

Oh, and I’m giving up fast food and sweets.  Oh, and something else but that’s between me and God. 😉 

Why do we receive the ashes?

Our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told

“Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

Where do the ashes come from?

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

Why do we give something up?

I’ve always given up something I intended to take back as soon as Easter Sunday arrives, but truly it should go like this:

Lent is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ and his way of life. That always involves giving up sin in some form. The goal is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever. Conversion means leaving behind an old way of living and acting in order to embrace new life in Christ.

Why do we give up meat?

Abstaining from meat traditionally also linked us to the poor, who could seldom afford meat for their meals. It can do the same today if we remember the purpose of abstinence and embrace it as a spiritual link to those whose diets are sparse and simple. That should be the goal we set for ourselves—a sparse and simple meal. Avoiding meat while eating lobster misses the whole point!

What about the fasting?

I have never been one to fast for Lent, but here is the reason you should if you choose to.

Fasting is more than a means of developing self-control. It is often an aid to prayer, as the pangs of hunger remind us of our hunger for God. The first reading on the Friday after Ash Wednesday points out another important dimension
of fasting. The prophet Isaiah insists that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God. “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own” (Is 58:6-7).

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully someday you and your husband will be in complete agreement about the religion thing, but for now, I’m glad you can still work together on it. 🙂

    Also, I’m not Catholic, nor am I religious, but it was interesting to hear about the ins and outs of Lent, since I had no clue.

    Reply
  2. That was neat to read, since I know very little about it. K is Catholic, and I was raised Baptist. I’ve been to Mass several times, although almost every time was in college with the guy I dated then.

    In Dallas, I actually go to a Lutheran church. It’s the one where K’s and my “real” wedding will take place. Neither of us is converting to the other’s religion because with the Army, we’ll be moving a lot. We have talked about it, and we have no idea what kind of church we’ll feel most at home in where we are stationed. Who knows — it might not be Baptist or Catholic. We want to find a church together, and when we start a family someday, we want to attend church together as well.

    I’m sure all these things are pretty easy to say right now, but since the Lutheran church is so similar to Catholic churches in the worship format, I’m not quite so uncomfortable with the thought of Catholicism like I used to be.

    It was just so different than anything I’d been to as a Baptist. I didn’t understand the purpose of reciting the same things each weeek. Even though we do the same thing at the Lutheran church, I never understood why until I realized I had those things pretty well memorized.

    Reply
  3. What a beautiful post! As a devoted Catholic I truly appreciate this! 🙂

    Reply

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