Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It was established many years ago, the exact date this practice started has been lost. It goes back at least to the 10th Century. History teaches that the reasoning behind it was the Catholic Church realized that many Catholics were not going to confession. They wanted to change that. The reasons why they wanted people to go to confession is debatable. Many scholars say it was for money, others say it was out of concern for the welfare of souls. Personally, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
Either way, the Catholic Church decided on the first day of Lent to be the one day a year that everyone would be required to go to confession. After confession they will receive an ash Cross on their forehead, this mark on your forehead was a way to distinguish a believer who had gone to confession, and a believer that has not. To remind everyone, they need to go to confession. The ashes come from burned palm branches from palm Sunday the year before, and the use of ash is symbolic of “repenting in sackcloth and ashes”.
Today it has evolved, but this is how it started. The mark on the forehead has become a point of persecution for many people. They act like if you don’t have the cross on your forehead, it means you’re not Christian. Many Christians do not believe in Ash Wednesday, as it lacks any biblical support, and it was started years after the death of the last apostles.
Lent pays tribute to the 40 days that Jesus Christ fasted in preparation for his ministry. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Holy Week, to prepare you a common practice is “giving something up for lent” just like Christ fasted. Often times it is something that is a vice, or a sin. Sometimes it is something that they personally want to give up to be a better or healthier person. My Catholic coworker once gave up sugar and sweets. Many Catholics give up meat for the 40 days of lent. But as soon as lent is over, most of my friends go right back to what they gave up.
Lent ends with “Holy Week.” Holy Week is basically the acts of the last week of Christ’s life, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. In some areas, people even reenact those events including the carrying of a cross, and in some areas, they even will crucify someone (normal they just tie them on the cross).
We believe the events of Holy Week happened. But we don’t believe in reacting them as many people do during lent.
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