Ash Wednesday: The Beginning of the Season of Lent

“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart … return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is He. … .”(Joel 2:12)

Even now, says the LORD, return to Me with your whole heart … return to the LORD, your God. For gra­cious and mer­ci­ful is He. … .”(Joel 2:12)

 

Ash Wednes­day is the first day of the sea­son of Lent. The ashes are placed on our fore­heads as a sign of repen­tance. Repen­tance lit­er­ally means to think again or to change one’s way of think­ing in regard to sin. In other words, repen­tance is the active resolve to turn away from sin.

 In the Old Tes­ta­ment times, peo­ple would put ashes on them­selves as an exter­nal sign of repen­tance. For exam­ple, the peo­ple of Nin­eveh repented in a sim­i­lar way after Jonah’s preaching.

… the peo­ple of Nin­eveh believed God, pro­claimed a fast, and put on sack­cloth,  from the great­est to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nin­eveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, cov­ered him­self with sack­cloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be pro­claimed and pub­lished through­out Nin­eveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let nei­ther man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any­thing; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be cov­ered with sack­cloth, and cry might­ily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way …’ ” (Jonah 3:5–8)

 We too must exam­ine our lives and resolve to turn from sin through God’s grace. By turn­ing from sin we can be rec­on­ciled to God and then grow in holi­ness. Jesus specif­i­cally insti­tuted the Sacra­ment of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion (Con­fes­sion) so that we may turn away from sin and its destruc­tive effects, turn back to God, and obtain the for­give­ness of sins.

Dur­ing this sea­son of Lent, may we turn away from sin with renewed efforts and run into the open arms of God, Our Lov­ing Father!

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