Charlie Donnelly of Hanover, Mass., receives ashes from Marylou Maddalena on Ash Wednesday Feb. 22 at St. Albert The Great Catholic church in Weymouth, Mass. Parishioners opened the church at midnight to give ashes to other church members.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a season of reflection and penitance for Christians leading up to Easter.
Ways to localize the holiday:
-- Is your area among those that offers "drive-through" ashes for those too busy to attend Mass today? If not, ask local priests and reverends what they think about the practice. What is the importance of such holy days and rituals in today's society?
-- What are your local religions schools doing for Ash Wednesday today? Ask young students what they are giving up for Lent, why Lent and Easter are important, and what they think of wearing ashes on their foreheads today.
-- So, what are those ashes, anyway? Ask local churches what they are made of and where they come from, as well as their meaning in today's ritual, so readers of other faiths can understand.
-- The tradition of giving something up for Lent goes back to the practice of fasting -- Catholics are still encouraged to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. The Massachusetts United Church of Christ suggests its members consider a "carbon fast," or to give up practices that could hurt the environment. Are your local churches suggesting other non-traditional ways to repent during Lent?