Lent: Ash Wednesday

“Ash Wednesday is the day Christians attend their own funerals. Whether or not worshipers receive ashes on their foreheads in the sign of the cross, the liturgy reminds them of their own demise: ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ Even in traditions where ashes are not imposed, the name of the day remains. Everything else that is said or done in the service happens in the presence of ashes…”

– Barbara Brown Taylor, Meditations from Feasting on the Word, Year B

“Ash Wednesday, an echo of the Hebrew Testament’s ancient call to sackcloth and ashes, is a continuing cry across the centuries that life is transient, that change is urgent. We don’t have enough time to waste time on nothingness. We need to repent our dillydallying on the road to God. We need to regret the time we’ve spent playing with dangerous distractions and empty diversions along the way. We need to repent of our senseless excesses and our excursions into sin, our breaches of justice, our failures of honesty, our estrangement from God, our savoring of excess, our absorbing self-gratifications, one infantile addiction, on creature craving another. We need to get back in touch with our souls. ‘Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return,’ the old Sacramentary formula warned us from God’s words to Adam and Eve, as the ashes trickled down our foreheads. We hear now, as Jesus proclaimed in Galilee, ‘Turn away from sin and believe the good news.’ (Mark 1:15).”

– Joan Chittister, “The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life”

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