I don't normally have much to say about Ash Wednesday, beyond wondering how a day that does not even require attendance in the Catholic church is one of the most popular for attendance. Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, but our local church has at least as many Masses today as they would for a day like All Saints or Ascension Thursday, plus an early imposition of ashes.
I had heard of C&E Christians, who only go to church on Christmas and Easter, but it was Curtis Sliwa who I heard refer to A&P Catholics -- ashes and palms. Not sure why those two days are particularly appealing---yes, you do leave church with a souvenir of sorts, but it's ashes (reminder of mortality) and blessed palm leaves (reminder to identify with those who praised and welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem and then turned on him).
Anyway: Lent begins today. I have noted before that the Church was wise to place Christmas at the beginning of winter, since the date of Jesus' birth was unknown. For those of us north of the Equator, it gave us hope and something to do as the days became minuscule. We know when the first Easter took place, as it was pegged to Passover, so its spot on the calendar was determined by God. Thanks, God!
It was -1 degree F. when I took out the dog this morning. Historically, and again for those of us in the north, Lent begins when winter is trying to talk us into hopelessness and suicide and the only ashes we see about are those in the fireplace, the last of the firewood burned up. But when we've traveled through the forty days of our Lenten journey, we find that spring has well and truly arrived.
Hold on, people!