Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Many Catholics attend mass today and receive a blessing of ashes on their foreheads.
The liturgical imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is a sacramental, not a sacrament, and in the Roman Catholic understanding of the term the ashes themselves are also a sacramental.
This morning at St. Peter’s, Msgr. Scollen suggested that we avoid taking on too many Lenten projects, and just focus on one:
We know that if we try to do 10 things, or 5 things, or 3 things, that we’re going to do nothing.
I’m finally at the point in my life where I see the wisdom of this advice, and this Lent I’m trying to be constant rather than ambitious in my practice. For more on sustaining changes in behavior, Leo Babauta has solid advice that’s helped me.
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”