Take that last bite of a pazcki. Put your Mardi Gras beads away. In the shadow of one of the most sinful nights of the year comes Ash Wednesday – the official start of Lent.
In Foggy Bottom, you can get ashes on the run. In Rhode Island, you don’t even have to get out of the car. It seems a tradition that dates back thousands of years has caught up with our everyday needs.
“Lent has been a tradition of the church for thousands of years, dating back to the early Church,” says Father Justin Ross of Catholic University. He adds that today’s interpretation of the 40-day season has changed over the centuries. If not a time exclusively for fasting, giving and prayer, it is perhaps a tiem of sacrifice for personal gain.
“I’m giving up pop and candy,” says Christopher Hastings, a visitor from Warsaw, IN.
“I'm giving up beer and drinking on the weeknights,” Aysha Love says.
We took to Facebook to see if these answers are the norm – turns out they are. Many on our Facebook wall admit they’re giving up some kind human vice. Buying lunch, French fries and wine made the list. Even the holy aren’t above earthly sins.
“I’m giving up chocolate milk and I’m giving up snacks,” says Father Ross.
Father Ross says it’s okay if the reasons are mildly selfish, as long as the next 40 days of lent are mildly painful.
“There is an element of adjusting,” he says. “There's a little bit of sacrifice in that and that helps me connect more broadly to the sacrifices that Jesus has made for us.”
So whether the hope is to lose weight or gain ground with God, the next 40 days may be at least somewhat inconvenient.