By Mark Hamilton
Wednesday’s chapel service was dedicated to Ash Wednesday. Students were asked to enter silently, and the usual casual service was replaced with a much more formal and liturgical one. The focus was on repentance of our sins. At the end of the service Pastor Troy and Professor O’Casey drew the traditional ash cross on the foreheads of those who were willing. Most of chapel lined up to take part in the ceremony.
Ash Wednesday is a traditional Christian ceremony that has been held since at least 960 AD for sure, and probably has been practiced since the 8th century. Today we observe it by drawing an ash cross on our foreheads but the earliest ceremonies involved sprinkling ashes over the entire head. No matter how it is done the ashes represent our recognition and repentance of our sins. Ash Wednesday begins Lent, a period of 40 days, ending on Easter, where Christians can choose to fast from something, whether that’s a food (like chocolate or soda pop) or something else (like using Facebook, complaining, etc.) Lent is modeled after the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. Interestingly enough, Ash Wednesday is actually 46 days before Easter. The extra six days are there because the Catholic church considers Sundays to be feast days, and thus you can’t officially fast on them. So if you swear off chocolate you can still officially have a bite if it’s on a Sunday.