Today marks the start of the Lenten season. The first day of Lent is known as Ash Wednesday. Being the history nerd that I am, I had to get the details about today. Thank you to Encylopedia Britannica – do you remember the brown leather set of 28 books? I kind of miss the days when I could just go pull down the lettered books and find what I was looking for, instead of being taken down multiple rabbit holes before finding the information that I was originally searching for.
The early Christian church observed a 36-day Lenten season (excluding Sundays). In the 7th century, four additional days were added to align with the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness.
Ash Wednesday came from the Romans. They observed the first day of the Lenten season through public penance of their sins. They practiced penance by dressing in sackcloths and being sprinkled with ashes in preparation for their restoration to sacrament on Maundy Thursday, the day that the Last Supper took place. Traditionally, the Roman Catholic Church made the ashes by burning palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday.
During Lent many people observe the season by giving up something to represent Jesus fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2). Some observe the season by adding positive things to their lives, for example, a random act of kindness, writing positive notes to people, reading the Bible daily, etc. I have partaken in both by giving things up and by adding things. This year I’m adding by writing Scripture daily, particularly through the “Names of Jesus” Bible reading challenge. I want to grow in my faith and walk with Jesus constantly and I’m looking forward ward to spending this time with God. What do you plan on doing in observance of Lent?
1 Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Ash Wednesday”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ash-Wednesday-Christian-holy-day. Accessed 21 February 2023.