Ash Wednesday - Catholic Courier

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday offers children an opportunity to see family members and other parishioners wearing ashes and a chance to wear ashes themselves. This experience can give children a sense of their deep connection to the parish.

Children are often intrigued by the imposing of ashes on others and themselves. Ashes are a sacramental and not a sacrament, so anyone who desires to do so may receive them. Wearing ashes gives children a sense of belonging within the community of faith.

Hearing the communal message of sin, repentance and forgiveness gives children the courage to confess their own sinfulness. On Ash Wednesday, everyone is confessing their own tendency to sin, making it easier for children to receive ashes and make the same confession.

We can remind children how at baptism, we were first signed with the cross using oil and water, as we were claimed as beloved children of our forgiving God. On Ash Wednesday, we are again marked with the cross, with a reminder that God loves us and forgives us, even though we are sinners.

The interest children have in the ashes can carry over to an interest in the beginning of Lent. By receiving ashes, family members begin the season by confessing that we are sinners and by remembering God’s love and forgiveness. We can encourage children to continue the journey of Lent by looking forward to Easter and working at doing better.

Lent is a time to engage in prayer, fasting and sharing what we have with others. Children may feel reluctant to adopt these changes in behavior. It helps to explain how prayer, fasting and almsgiving open us to God and the needs of others. Lent is not just a time to "give something up." It’s a sacred season for us to do more for God and for others. It’s a time to change our hearts.

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