Ash Wednesday and Lenten Season Symbols Explained

Ash Wednesday and Lenten Season Symbols Explained

Regina Trejo, Music Editor

No-meat-Fridays, Stations of the Cross, and “What are you giving up for lent?” are things that many Regina girls hear during the 40 long days of Lent.

On Ash Wednesday, those who went up to get palm ashes rubbed on their foreheads all sported the look throughout the day.

What do those little black crosses represent? Why are we constantly reminded to “Pray, Fast, and Give?” Why do we have to give up things that we like?

Here are the answers to all the questions you have always been dying to ask about Lent:

Question 1: What do those little black crosses represent?

First off, you must think back to Palm Sunday, the Sunday where we celebrate Jesus’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. We replicate that day by taking the blessed palms that were not used the previous year, which are burned to make ashes. When mass-goers process up to the front of the church and receive their ashes in the shape of a cross, they are told, “You are dust and unto dust you shall return.” By noting that we are just dust, we are realizing the shortness of life and imminence of death.

During Lent, Jesus spent 40 suspenseful and tormenting days in the wilderness contemplating and enduring temptation.  The ashes are a sign of our penance and prepares us for Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Question 2: Why are we constantly reminded to “Pray, Fast, and Give?”

  1. Prayer is important for self-reflection. During the Lenten Season, we must look inward and evaluate our past actions. We must find the places where we must open up to God and trust in His love more. If we are able to set aside time a pray, we can become more in-tune with our own spirituality and relationship with God, just as Jesus was able to do during the days leading up to his death.
  2. Fasting is important for an evaluation of what we really need in our lives. Do you need to check your Instagram feed every hour to get through the day? Is it imperative for you to eat those Regina Dominican tater tots at lunch? I will let you in on a secret: No, you do not need those things! Fasting reminds us that we need the love of God and Jesus to sustain us, and none of our earthly goods.
  3. Giving is important so that we can help others. Almsgiving is just another way we can think about ourselves less and really help those who need it.

We are constantly reminded to pray, fast, and give because it is important to all aspects of our life.

Question 3: Why do we have to give up things that we like?

You do not have to give up things that you like! In fact, you do not have to give up anything.

A common misconception about Lent is that you must abstain from something that you enjoy or that is a weakness for you. After Lent, though, you probably just go back to the same habit again. If this is true, then giving something up just seems pointless. Lent is a time for us to renew our commitment to God. We are supposed to give up our bad ways and embrace a new life with Christ.

Here is a suggestion for Lent that might actually bring you closer to God: Take on something new. Do something good to help yourself negate the bad things that you might do out of habit or out of poor self-discipline and embrace the goodness that God has given us.

Lent is a great time to think about all that we have done wrong and how we can fix those mistakes. Lent is also a great time to grow closer to God.

Take the opportunity this Lenten Season to reflect about your actions and take on something that would benefit yourself and others.