What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday - February 18, 2015 (services at 7:30 am & 6:30 pm)

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a forty day period especially set aside for careful personal reflection, confession and repentance.  It is a season in which we remember the passion of Christ (His sufferings) and meditate upon the oft ignored reality of our own mortality.  It is a time of self denial and of self examination, a time to seek to understand (and enter into) the sufferings of our Lord in a deeper manner.  Lent is a time to slow down and consider with focused attention those things which we tend to conveniently ignore.  It is a season in which we look to this life as a means of further preparing for the life to come.  

What is the meaning of having Ashes put on one’s forehead?

We use ashes because in the Bible ashes are often indicators of mourning and repentance (1 Sam 4:12; 2 Sam 1:20, 13:19, 15:32), making the imposition of ashes a deeply symbolic gesture.  Listen to the words spoken when the ashes are imposed - they remind us both of the consequences of Adamís fall (i.e. our mortality: Gen 3:19) and of the words spoken at a funeral (ìAshes to ashes; dust to dustî).  

A cross is made on our foreheads because in the Bible to be marked on the forehead is symbolic of ownership (Ez 9:4-6; Rev 7:3, 9:4, 14:1).  Having been redeemed by God, we belong to God and He has marked us as His own.  

The Collect for Ash Wednesday (to be said every day in Lent).

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we,worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness. may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ash Wednesday servcies at St. Marks - 7:30 am and 6:30 pm (February 18, 2015).

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