Why Ash Wednesday Falls When It Does

Ash Wednesday is March 1st this year. For those readers who really don’t care about when Ash Wednesday or Easter fall this year (or any year) this may come in handy someday as cocktail party chatter. For others, It’s a menu-planning guide, a social calendar, and a second chance at behavior modification if that whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing didn’t go so well. There are actually two calculations that are used to create Ash Wednesday.

In 325 A.D. the Council of Nicaea set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the spring equinox. In practice, that means that Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after March 21. Easter can occur as early as March 22. We know that Easter must always occur on a Sunday because Sunday was the day of Christ’s Resurrection. But why the paschal full moon? Because that was the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar, and the Last Supper (Holy Thursday) occurred on the Passover. Therefore, Easter was the Sunday after Passover.

Then there is the length of Lent. From the earliest days of the Church, Christians have desired to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection at Easter through a period of fasting and prayer that mirrors the forty days that Christ spent in the desert at the beginning of His ministry. But there was one little hitch: Because Sunday is the day of Christ’s Resurrection, from the time of the Apostles on fasting has been forbidden on Sunday.

We’ve whittled it down over the years in our culture to mean “no meat on Fridays, and give up something for Lent”. So most people give up sweets, alcohol, TV, or whatever. Then they go to a big fish-fry on Friday nights! Lent is kind of a party season where I live. Every Friday night the lines at all seafood restaurants are out the door, and churches that have fish-frys are bombarded, and the neighbors complain their driveways are blocked.

But Lent isn’t really another chance to give up something bad for you. It’s an opportunity to do penance for your sins. Of course children, the elderly, the ill, and pregnant women are excluded. Since my conversion to Catholicism as an adult I’ve given up something different every year. The hardest year was when I gave up novels. I detest non-fiction. Within a week I was all twitchy and reading shampoo bottles. Seriously. I’d see a novel by an author I liked on a patient’s bedside table and the doctor I was rounding with had to practically drag me out of the room. But I realized how much time I spent reading fiction.

This year I’m pulling out the big guns. I’m fasting for the forty days of Lent. I will take dietary supplements, but I will only consume liquids. I have a lot to atone for this year. Ask anyone. “Sweet Angie” has been in hibernation. I’m being honest, authentic, genuine with everyone. That means no filter. I suspect it comes from being in constant pain that only increases as the years pass. And probably the stress of being a breadwinner who hasn’t won any bread in several years and is thereby only a financial liability to everyone I care about.

So if you want an honest answer about anything I’m the person to ask. Just check with my pharmacy and my primary care doc’s office. Someone dropped the ball, and I really didn’t care who. I just wanted the massive dose of blood pressure medication I’d been without all weekend called in and filled before I had a stroke. I got that accomplished, but not without multiple phone calls and me spending my entire day in bed.

There are wonderful things coming up this spring! My granddaughter will be born in April, my youngest child will graduate high school in May, and sooner or later I’ll get a hearing with a judge and hopefully I won’t have to worry about keeping a roof over our heads or keeping the power and water on!

So when I get ashes Wednesday it will be a symbol of me giving myself over to God. I will fast and I will pray. Pray More Novenas will be sending out a prayer daily if you don’t have one planned. I’ll be praying for my family this year. They are undergoing a lot of change. Positive change, but change nonetheless. And change is stressful. This Lent, make a positive change for yourself!

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A Week of Wonderful

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— 1 —

I’ll be finishing up the Our Lady of Lourdes novena tomorrow. It’s one I say every year. The darkness of winter around here needs as many reminders of miracles as possible, and there’s certainly no shortage of people for whom to pray.

— 2 —

I just got home from playing with a couple of the sweetest little boys ever – I look forward to Friday nights all week! Tonight we watched come cute songs with animation on YouTube. The very first was “Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee”, which took me straight back to Aaron’s daycare and pre-school years. I can see his sweet face with his little-boy haircut like it was yesterday, even though he’s a grown-up web designer with a baby girl due in 10 weeks or so. He liked the verse about smashing the bumblebee best, of course. Both my boys got my dark sense of humor!

— 3 —

Aaron’s expertise was a huge blessing earlier this week when my blog was hacked. I was beside myself because the hacker had replaced my post (a book review) with his vulgar political one and changed my password so I couldn’t log in. Aaron had set himself up a login for my blog as well as a way to access my entire computer remotely while he was in college, so it was evidently a quick fix for him. I would almost surely have had a stroke without both him and my original blog designer talking me out of my tree!

— 4 —

My younger son, John, performed with his high school’s Jazz Band this week. I wasn’t there, but my husband got great video of John’s performance, and I was incredibly impressed and proud when I watched! It’s a good thing we have a studio in the basement – I think it’s going to see more and more action. They had a guest performer – a member of the Air Force’s Band of the Golden West on baritone sax. If you’ve never seen an Air Force Band perform let me assure you: they really are the best of the best. And this guy loved John. He even high-fived him over the drum set after the song where the baritone sax was featured. That is a #proudmom moment!

— 5 —

While John was performing I was at a surprise party – for me! Three of my closest friends and I met for dinner (as we do periodically), but this time we celebrated me turning fifty (I showed off my celebratory navel ring), being an expectant grandmother, and working with these wonderful ladies for twenty-five years! The company I was working for when I was unable to return to work after my fourth spinal surgery because of constant, severe pain still considers me to be on Medical Leave of Absence, and will do so until I can finally get in front of a judge and be officially declared disabled. This means I can purchase insurance for myself and my family for the same price as if I were still working full-time. It’s hard to believe a company in this day and age could be that compassionate, but they have been. They even gave me a twenty-five year award, which I never would have expected. It was an emotional evening for me.

— 6 —

John got his official admission letter from the University of Louisville, so our next step is applying for housing. We get a discount on that deposit, thank God, but we still need to put together some money to get it done ASAP. I’m wading through possible scholarships and forwarding the best matches to John for application, and we have our fingers crossed we’ll get news soon about a really big one! John’s school counselor has been a huge help – there have been many times I’d have been completely lost without her input and suggestions. Keep us in your prayers, please!

— 7 —

I’ve gotten a little addicted to Hometalk, a daily email with several Pinterest-focused DIY/crafty projects. I’m going to have to stop cold-turkey, though. I was already really over anything that involved empty cans, empty TP rolls, or plastic cups or bottles. Then I saw an “upcycle” where someone had turned a bookshelf into a bar cart. Ponder that for a moment. If someone needs a bar cart more than a bookshelf they need to take a long, hard look at their life and their priorities. I need to take some time and better organize my Pinterest boards anyway. I discovered Pinterest early and never realized how huge it would get, so I have categories with names like “Good Ideas” and “Maybe”. Yikes.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

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My Five Favorite Romantic Movies

Good thing Kathy specified movies, not books, in this week’s Writers Workshop because I’d never be able to narrow my favorite romances down to just five! Movies I think I can do, though. These are in no particular order, BTW.

You’ve Got Mail (Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks)

She owns a children bookstore, he woos her with talk of bouquets of sharpened pencils. She loves daisies and he has a golden retriever. There’s mistaken identity, tragedy, and a happily ever after. It’s perfect.

The Tourist (Angelina Jolie & Johnny Depp)

I almost didn’t watch this one because Angelina Jolie annoys me. But the costumes dragged me in. Then the sexual tension ramped up and stayed there, even though they barely touched each other. And she fell in love with him all over again without even knowing who he was. A romance for the ages.

Much Ado About Nothing (Emma Thompson & Kenneth Branagh)

The comedy, the deception, the high drama of young emotions and the carefully laid plot to ensnare the reluctant lovers. And Denzel Washington as the prince is as stunning as ever! I could watch this every day.

Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightley & Matthew Macfadyen)

The rain scene. Watching Mr. Darcy’s heart break open during the rain scene. Only when you’ve loved someone you shouldn’t or someone who thinks you aren’t their equal can you understand the power of that scene.

Bringing Up Baby (Katherine Hepburn & Cary Grant)

I adore Katherine Hepburn, but I think she’s at her best in this over-the-top comedy that PETA will never allow to be remade. But that’s fine. No one else could play either of these roles, anyway!

 

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