John Catton, Campus Carrier Features Editor
It is that time of year again where you might see an unusual sight on some people’s foreheads around campus. No, it’s not dirt, it’s ashes. For many Christians, Ash Wednesday serves as the beginning of the season of Lent.
The Lenten season is a period for Christians to prepare themselves for the most important holiday in Christianity: Easter. In order to prepare ourselves for this time, we spend the 40 days (representative of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert according to gospels Mark, Matthew and Luke) in a state of introspection, prayer, giving and sacrifice.
It’s a common misconception that Lent is simply a time to “give something up.” The season is so much greater and more meaningful than that. It’s not a second chance to try your New Year’s resolutions, but a chance to become closer with God. By sacrificing things that keep us away from our time with God; be it TV, social media or other things, we have the opportunity to let God come closer to us and to improve our spiritual life.
This idea is not even close to new. In fact, Lent has origins as old as Christianity itself, with documented evidences of Lent going back before Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire in 313 AD. It became an official part of the Christian faith in the Council of Nicaea in 325 (yes that is where the Nicene Creed comes from).
So what is up with those ashes anyway? Well, for most Christians its meaning comes from the book of Genesis from the Holy Bible, when God told Adam and Eve in Garden of Eden, “for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19 NIV) This verse is often quoted during the Ash Wednesday church service by the person who is applying the ashes.
As human beings, we all know that our time here is limited, but Christians are not scared of death as it is through faith that they may enter heaven.
To a Christian, wearing ashes on their foreheads is a visible symbol of their faith as well as a reminder of their mortality.
This year, Ash Wednesday fell on the same day as Valentine’s day. Which, in my eyes, is more beautiful than ironic.
As a Christian, I believe that on a day centered around the concept of love, how can we do any better than to celebrate the love that God has shown for us? What act of love is greater than by the one who “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life?” (John 3:16 NIV)
Even for those who are not Christians or those who don’t celebrate the Lenten holiday, Lent can still be a great time for introspection and reflection.
I recommend that even as much as five minutes of true alone time, (yes, no phones, no TV) a day can do more for your well being than just about anything else. I think you would be astonished with how much better you might feel after six weeks!
I wish everyone a happy Lenten season, and I wish everyone success on their Lenten journey.