On Wednesday, Feb. 22, Christians of various denominations and traditions worldwide gathered at their respective houses of worship to observe the first day of the Lenten season, commonly referred to as Ash Wednesday.
For many, the Lenten season — the 40 days prior to Easter — is a reminder of Christ's 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert, ending with his temptations by Satan.
It is also a time of fasting, repentance, prayer and works of charity in preparation for the holiest days of the Christian calendar: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil (the Saturday before Easter) and Easter Sunday.
Easter will be celebrated this year on April 8 by most denominations in the Western tradition, and on April 15 in the Eastern (Orthodox) traditions.
Members of the St. Philip's Catholic Church in Cedaredge ushered in the Lenten season with the traditional Ash Wednesday Mass, including marking the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the faithful using burned ashes from the palms used during the previous year's Palm Sunday celebration. They were reminded to, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel," as they received the mark.
The congregation at All Saint's Lutheran Church in Cory celebrated Ash Wednesday with a soup supper and prayer service that included the marking of the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the faithful with the familiar words, "Remember man that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return," regarding mankind's inevitable return to dust.
Members of the Eckert Presbyterian Church also celebrated Ash Wednesday in a similar manner, with a soup supper and worship service that included the sign of the cross via imposition of ashes.
Members of the Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church celebrated Ash Wednesday with a worship service that included marking the foreheads of the faithful with the sign of the cross via the the imposition of ashes.
Originally, the 40 days of Lent was the time of personal commitment to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as a part of the preparation for those who were to be baptized during the Easter Vigil (the celebration on the Saturday before Easter Sunday).
And while some churches still observe a tradition of fasting on certain days during Lent, others focus more on charitable deeds: feeding the hungry; giving drink to the thirsty; clothing the naked; sheltering the homeless; visiting the sick; burying the dead; and visiting those in prison, or by contributing money to charities.
In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea issued the Easter Rule, stating that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the ecclesiastical (not astronomical) vernal (spring) equinox. Since the ecclesiastical vernal equinox is always on March 21, Easter can be celebrated as early as on March 22 or as late as on April 25.
However, not all Christian churches observe Easter based on the Gregorian calendar. Some churches still observe Easter according to the Julian calendar. For those in the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, Great Lent, based on the Julian Calendar, begins on the seventh Monday before Easter (Clean Monday or Pure Monday) and ends on the Friday before Palm Sunday — using the Eastern date for Easter.blog comments powered by Disqus