Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

VALDOSTA — Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, was technically yesterday but will be observed with much revelry and parades in many cities around the world. Fat Tuesday was once the day when you ate and drank to excess in preparation for Lent. Now folks just typically eat and drink to excess for no particular reason.

And Fat Tuesday is followed by Ash Wednesday, which is observed the world over today as it is 40 days from Easter. Many Christians will attend church services today to repent of their sins and receive the priest or pastor’s blessing, followed by receiving the mark of the cross in ashes on their forehead.

Today is also the traditional beginning of Lent, a time when those who observe the practice give up something, a manner of sacrifice. Lent observers also often fast, hold special prayer gatherings, do acts of penance, and in some traditions, remove all adornments in the church. It’s a time of self sacrifice, and often people say they are giving up various items for Lent. It has to be something meaningful and difficult to do, or the sacrifice is meaningless.

The practice dates back to the first century. An observance of Christ’s 40 days fasting in the desert, enduring temptation.

While not everyone observes Lent as a religious tradition, many observe it as a personal tradition. Giving up something as a means of cleansing mind, body and soul. Showing a measure of self sacrifice that is woefully absent in today’s society.

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