Every year around this time, my Catholic friends start getting very excitable and giddy, all due to what’s known as Ash Wednesday and Lent.
As far as I could tell over the years, the meaning of Ash Wednesday is to signify that you’re just a mortal sinner. That’s fine. Every day of the year, most people on this Earth (especially those in foreign cultures that worship false gods) are pretty deep up to their necks in sin.
We’re all born with original sin due to the antics of women, Eve in particular, not being able to resist temptation and tricking men to fall into sin with them. That’s pretty typical behavior of women, but that’s not the topic of today’s informative piece and discussion on Ash Wednesday.
What I have a problem with, and don’t take this the wrong way, is all the uncomfortable mystic stuff that’s associated with Ash Wednesday. Take for instance the fact that in addition to going to their mass celebrations today to say chants in what I think is Latin, the Catholics also allow their priests to Sanchez up their foreheads with actual ashes!
You’ll see it if you look around today. There will be many people walking around, with an appearance of an almost tidy chimney sweep as they have soot upon their brow. I know symbolism is important to many religions, but I do find that to be somewhat improper for a Christian.
Just think about how we perceive the good, misguided people in India for those dots they pot in the middle of their foreheads? That third eye? That’s how others may see us putting ashes on our forehead, as a symbol of recognizing sin. Do we really have to go through so many motions to express a concept that’s true every day of the week?
I don’t think so.
My friends also always ‘give up’ something for Lent as well. This week through Twitter and the other social networks like the new Facebook monstrosity, I’ve kept tabs on my Catholic colleagues. They’ve been giving up stuff like movies, chocolate, shopping, SEX (those who are not even married to boot), drinking, smoking and the list goes on.
Do you see the problem with that? All of those actions are things we should keep curbed all throughout the year, every single day. Yet, just because we give it up for one portion of the year does not make it some cute little social item we chat about with friends, thinking it’s going to make us holy for the rest of the year and thereby give us salvation?
Where is the fire and brimstone messages of Christianity today? Sure, proper denominations — say like Southern Baptist — still get it spot on. But much like the Muslims and their Jihad (which means ‘struggle’ from what I’m told, and Ramadan is basically like Lent), I think focusing too much on the days leading up to Easter and a sacrifice that’s associated with those days is being exploited in a modern, shallow culture.
No more is it really a super-sanctimonious time, but rather it’s become a social item to throw into a life of sin. When you have people casually laughing and talking about what they are giving up for Lent, especially when it includes giving up premarital sex, then setting schedules for ‘fun stuff to do’ after you get out of Lent mass and have a free day, I think it starts to lose the meaning.
Catholic leaders need to start laying the law down again. I thought this new Ratzinger pope, with his surviving through the antics of Hitler’s propaganda and all that nonsense, would be pushing hard for Catholics to get real about being Christians. There is still too much tokenism and I don’t think Ash Wednesday or lent has the same oomph as it may have in the past.
That’s why I say the best way to remain moral and sanctified is with tough, dogged determination to live very moral each and every day.
We should always give up the things in life that we know are wrong. We should always correct the errant people who don’t see things our way for being wrong. And first and foremost, we should eagerly talk to everyone about the faith, much as giddy Catholic adults do when discussing their social item of Lent.