Ashes Speak of Grace, Creation, and Justice

Receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday is often misunderstood as simply a reminder of our mortality: “We’re all gonna die!” What a depressing message! And yet, the words we hear at Mass on Ash Wednesday remind us that being marked with ashes will help us to “celebrate” the Paschal Mystery. To celebrate is to express joy. What is so joyful about getting dust smeared on our foreheads? We need to remember that all symbolic acts invoke […]

An Ash Wednesday Dialogue

Provide children with the language to explain why they wear ashes on Ash Wednesday. The brief video below illustrates an imagined dialogue between two students that can be a model for children and a classroom discussion starter. Read the post that inspired this video: “What’s That on Your Forehead?”—Helping Kids Explain Ash Wednesday. And see more Lenten resources for catechists here.

Explaining Ash Wednesday to Children

Ash Wednesday is popular with children because ashes are such a tangible symbol. People of all ages love when the spiritual is made physical, when they can touch and feel something real. The Church gives us sacramentals such as blessed ashes, palms, rosaries, and candles to help us open up to God’s grace. Explaining the meaning behind the ashes is important for children to understand why they are walking around with dirt on their foreheads. […]

Preparing for Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, so we’ll take all the children in the religious education program to church for Mass. It’s the same Mass the full parish is invited to, and it’s usually crowded. By taking the children to this Mass, we emphasize that not only is Ash Wednesday something special, but that we are part of a parish community. Because of the Mass, we don’t have a class session this week to discuss Lent; we had […]

Getting Ready for Ash Wednesday

Realizing that over the next few days, many of you will be preparing people for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, I thought I would remind you of some resources that might be of assistance to you. Ashes (blog post) What’s That on Your Forehead? (my popular Ash Wednesday post) Lent FAQ with Joe Paprocki (video) Arts & Faith: Ash Wednesday (video with transcript and activity) What is Ash Wednesday? (video from De La […]

Ash Wednesday and Lent: Holiness is a Habit

Welcome to Lent…a time to rid ourselves of habits that are doing little good or even causing harm to ourselves and others and to replace them with habits that are life-giving. Unfortunately, old habits die hard. And contrary to the popular notion that habits can be changed in 21 days, experts tell us that it can take up to a year to change old habits and develop new ones. Lent is 40 days for a reason: holiness is […]

You’ll Never Repent a Lent Well-Spent! Ash Wednesday is Here!

I love that phrase! “You’ll never repent a Lent well-spent!” My wife heard that from one of the Marist brothers she teaches with at Marist HS in Chicago so I couldn’t resist “re-appropriating” it! How true it is: if we make the most of this Lenten season, we’ll not regret it. And now, with Ash Wednesday upon us, we officially enter into the Lenten season, 2013. A great big THANK YOU to all who participated in […]

What’s That on Your Forehead? – My Popular Ash Wednesday Post

Here’s a popular Ash Wednesday post of mine called, “What’s that on Your Forehead?”   Q:  Hey, your forehead’s dirty. What’s that on your forehead? A:  Ashes…they’re from church. Q:  Why did your church put dirt on your forehead? A:  It’s not dirt; they’re ashes. Today’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Catholics wear ashes to show that we want to change to get ready for Easter. Q:  Are they supposed to be in […]

A CALENDAR of 40 Lenten Activities!

I couldn’t resist offering one more Lenten calendar for you! This one comes to us courtesy of my Loyola Press colleague Linnette Mathys who thought it would be a good idea to arrange my 40 Ideas for 40 Days into a calendar! Thanks, Linnette…this is very cool! I’m very lucky and blessed to be surrounded by so many talented and creative people whose work ends up somehow making ME look good! Click here for an […]

"What’s That on Your Forehead?"—Helping Kids Explain Ash Wednesday

A catechist e-mailed me with the following question about helping children to be able to explain why they are wearing ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday: Do you have anything in print or an article you know of for kids to help explain why they wear ashes on their forehead on Ash Wednesday to their classmates at the public schools? I know the reasons and such but from an elementary child’s perspective would help. […]

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