Bucks County Herald

Ash Wednesday begins Lent, offering time for introspection, acts of charity

PAUL W. OCHADLICK

As we all know, Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day. However, this year it coincides with Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, which culminates 46 days later on Easter Sunday. The season of Lent is a time of fasting, prayer and acts of charity.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting, which would include the wearing of ashes on one’s head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us.

As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, the priest speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

While Ash Wednesday is primarily observed by Catholics, it is also observed by other Christian faith traditions. All Christians and non-Christians are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services.

While Ash Wednesday obviously is always on a Wednesday, the date varies based on the date of Easter. The calculation of Easter is interesting and is based on the Gregorian calendar while the Eastern Orthodox date for Easter is based on the Julian calendar.

The calculation method is the same in both cases. The date for Easter is the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring (vernal) equinox and will always be after the Jewish celebration of Passover.

Since Christ observed Passover wth his Apostles, therefore the very first Easter, the day Christ rose from the dead, was the Sunday after Passover. So Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter Sunday.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a good time for all of us to do some introspection of our lives in preparation for Easter.

Maybe instead of doing the “do not’s” like giving up something you really like, consider doing the “do’s” such as giving more to charity or helping out at a food pantry. In this way, you will become more spiritually whole and a help to others. There are many opportunities to help other people, often less fortunate, in Bucks and surrounding areas.

Consider attending services more frequently whatever your faith tradition is. For the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday, consider visiting Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church at 5194 Cold Spring Creamery Road, Doylestown. Ashes will be distributed within Masses at 8 a.m., noon and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

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