Ash Wednesday Services – 2014



ash wednesday


The idea of Christians setting aside a specific time of prayer, instruction and fasting probably began in the second century. Catechumens – people preparing for baptism at Easter – fasted for a few days before the sacred ceremony. Soon, those already baptized began to join in the fast as a sign of solidarity. By the fourth century, a period of 40 days took hold. Also, the focus gradually changed from the triumph of Easter to a time of penitence. This led to the practice of marking the faithful with ashes. The scholar Josef A. Jungmann wrote that ancients knew Lent as a time “during which we are to cleanse ourselves from the dust of our daily lives, to reorder our conduct; hence it was meant to be a religious renewal, a kind of annual retreat.”

Here is a wonderful from quote from Dom Gregory Dix, a true student of liturgy. It is from his book, The Shape of the Liturgy: “The importance of Lent lay precisely in this, that it was not just one more ascetic exercise for the devout, but that it was recognized as being of universal obligation. … [It] was intended to be a strictly corporate effort of the whole church, from the bishop down to the humblest catechumen, to live at least for a season as befitted the Body of Christ. … It reminded the careless and the sinful Christian, as insistently as it did the devout, of the claims of the Christian standard: ‘Be not conformed to the world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’”

The Rev. M. Dion Thompson, Rector
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Covenant

Categories: Lent 2014

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