Thursday, February 26, 2009
Notes About Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday Historical Background (A thought on Ash Wednesday from Dave Bunker)
"The imposition of ashes on the foreheads of Christians is an ancient Christian practice, going back at least to the 10th century. Biblically, ashes are a symbols of purification and penitence (see Numbers 19:9, 17; Hebrews 9:13; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:21, and Luke 10:13 ).
In the early church, people who had been separated from the church because of serious sins might seek to be re-admitted to the fellowship by observing a formal period of penitence during Lent. These people were generally sprinkled with ashes or given rough garments sprinkled with ashes as a sign of their sorrow for their sins.
Beginning in the tenth century, the observance of Ash Wednesday became a general rite for the church. The ashes, which were a symbol of purification in the Old Testament, remind us that we are mortal. In many churches the ashes are made by burning the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday. Ashes are placed on the forehead, usually in the sign of a cross, in a ritual known as the Imposition of Ashes. As the ashes are placed on the forehead, words such as these are spoken:
"Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," recalling God's words to Adam in Genesis 3:19.
The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebrations and mixing them with olive oil as a fixative. In the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence. " from Dave Bunker