You have dirt on your forehead!

Being a Catholic outside of a Catholic country has its own weird happenings.  I was raised in Puerto Rico and attended Catholic school all my life.  Naturally on Ash Wednesday all of us would be walking around with the ashes on our foreheads.  Even outside the school, everyone knew what the dark spot in your forehead was.

However, when I moved to the states on my very first Ash Wednesday un monton de gente would stop me to tell me I had dirt on my forehead.  No, I’d say, it’s Ash Wednesday.  Blank stare followed by what is that? Are you kidding me?  You know Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent.  Blank Stare.  It’s a religious thing I’d say near exasperation.

So, as I type this, I’m about to leave for Mass for Ash Wednesday to get my dirt on the forehead.  What am I giving up for Lent you ask?  I thought about this long and hard.  First I thought of giving up coffee.  The shear thought of living without coffee for 40 days made me break into sweats.  So I decided to give up two things: sweets and Dunkin Donuts coffee.

Trust me, if you live in Rhode Island, and feel even remotely a Rhode Islander, giving up Dunkin Donuts coffee is no easy task.

So to all you Catholics and Christians who follow the tradition of giving up something for Lent, what are you giving up this year?

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11 thoughts on “You have dirt on your forehead!

  1. Hey! In the Eastern Orthodox Chruch we actually fast for the entire 40 days: no meat, eggs, dairy, fish, wine, or oil. So that’s what I’ll be giving up! Our Great Lent starts on Monday, and our Easter is a week after you guys this year (it was a few weeks apart last year). Good luck and I pray that you use this time to purify your heart and prepare yourself for the second but most important advent of Christ so far!

  2. Meat on Fridays, since my Colombian hubby’s Catholic. I’m still debating…thinking about giving up blogging. I know, horrific. Maybe I’ll take your Dunkin Donuts lead and just blog on Sundays.
    Either way, blessings during this time.

    • Hey Roberto, it’s a long winding explanation originating in Jewish tradition….short version, ashes are a symbol of penance. Lent is a season of inward reflection and penance. It’s a Christian Ramadan or Christian Yom Kippur; it’s about fasting for penance, and a return to spiritual priorities. Closeness to God if you will. It also honors Jesus’ 40 days in the dessert before the crucifixion. You can read about the ashes here, and about Ash Wednesday here.

      Evenshine, I give up meat on all Fridays during Lent, and try to fast on the Fridays as well. I say try, b/c for me the fasting is physically very hard. Give up blogging for Lent sounds kind of rough; maybe you can follow Doulos lead, and not blog on the Holy day (I don’t know your denomination so I don’t know if you hold sabbath or Sunday holy).

  3. Thanks Adriana. Not as a knock, but as a comment, I just find it intriguing that an all-knowing, all-seeing Deity requires outward displays of penance instead of just peeking into our hearts.

    • Actually God (Jesus) doesn’t; ironically, the reading for Ash Wednesday talks about that. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing; if you fast look good, not all wasted so other don’t know you are fasting. It is a man-made symbolism more than anything else.

  4. Anyhow. I am giving up sugar/desserts and saying mean things about people, which is hard because it’s a major hobby of mine. I am also trying to read the Bible every day, which is not a very Catholic thing to do. The Baptists beat the heck out of us on this.

    A few years ago, my husband (then my boyfriend) and I were in Madrid. “It’s a good thing it’s not Lent, huh?” he said.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Because you wouldn’t be able to have churros y chocolate.”

    “Sure I would.”

    “But you always give up sugar and chocolate for Lent!”

    “Nah. I would give up sex instead.”

    He got mad. “You’d have to pay your own way here if you were going to do that,” he answered.

    • Class Factotum, I combined your two comments so it only appears once! Thanks for stopping by and good luck; my giving up sweets has been very hard!

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