Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

I'm intrigued by an article I just ran into in the New York Times about the Catholic Church returning to the practice of offering indulgences. They don't sell them any more (the practice that so offended Luther), but you can still obtain an indulgence (a break from the penalities for sin) for someone who is already dead. Theologically, it doesn't fit my notion of grace. But as a historian who used to teach western civ, I find it interesting to find in the present a practice that I tried to explain to my students as an odd bit of history.

I like what Barbara Crafton writes about Lent today:

Another Lent begins in austere weariness, ready for a season of spareness,
a little more quiet. Forty plainer days are just what we need. It is seven on
the morning here; our first liturgy is at eight. Remember that you are dust, we
will say repeatedly today. Remember that you are tired, that you need to slow
down, that you need to think. Remember that what you say and do has eternal
significance, so you'd best consider it closely before you say or do it.
Remember what you long ago forgot. Remember that it is never too late to begin
again to make it right, and that we don't have to make it right all by

I got a very dark mark for Ash Wednesday at the 7 am service today, unlike last year when no one noticed. The first person to comment on it was a used textbook buyer who said "That's right, it's Ash Wednesday."

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