Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and prayer marking the beginning of Lent. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day, all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead - or in the case of clerics upon the place of the tonsure - of each with the sign of the cross, saying the words: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return"... 

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