Clarification about Ash Wednesday


#1

Am I correct that anyone may receive the ashes: including non Catholics, or Catholics who haven't been to Confession, etc?

am I also correct that it's not a day of obligation? (I'm still planning on going though :))

Finally... regarding the fast and abstinence: is it one full meal with two snacks, with no meat? I always forget for some reason because I've also been researching the Eastern Catholic fasts so.. :)

thanks!


#2

You are correct on all three.


#3

One thing I would like to be explained - what does the ash symbolise? Why does it happen on a Wednesday and 40 days before Easter?


#4

[quote="SilverCamellia, post:3, topic:314714"]
One thing I would like to be explained - what does the ash symbolise? Why does it happen on a Wednesday and 40 days before Easter?

[/quote]

That's actually three things, but okay. :D

The ashes are an ancient symbol of penitence. See, e.g., Esther 4:1, 2 Samuel 13:19, Jeremiah 6:26. It is on a Wednesday because that happens to be 40 days before Easter Sunday. It is 40 days because Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert.


#5

This is a great tradition! Please pray for Pope Benedict


#6

Also, the 40 days was a preparation of the Catechumens for baptism. Long ago Holy Saturday was the day for solemn baptism. In Constantinople the usual date for solemn baptism was moved a week earlier to Lazarus Saturday, so the Fast was also moved a week earlier. In some locations the practice was changed to 40 actual fasting days rather than a 40 day period with no fast on Saturday and Sunday, so it increased to eight weeks. In Rome it became six weeks of six days for a total of 36. It was then extended back to 40 days to begin at Ash Wednesday.


closed #7

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