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!