Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Being Real on Ash Wednesday

A couple of thought provoking pieces on observing Ash Wednesday…

As an Antidote to "Over-Realized Eschatology"

Richard Beck, over at his always provocative Experimental Theology:
I'm a Winter Christian which means that lament is a pretty big part of my spiritual experience. But by and large the general tone of worship in evangelical culture tends to privilege the Summer Christian experience of unmitigated praise. The theology that informs this preference is often triumphalistic and symptomatic of what is called an over-realized eschatology. What is an over-realized eschatology? It's rushing ahead to heaven, victory, happiness and Easter. A refusal to sit with the Fall, brokenness, lament and Good Friday.
All here

Ashless Anglicanism? 

In the you-learn-something-new-every-day department: 
In the sixteenth century the English Reformers abolished the imposition of ashes on the heads of parishioners on Ash Wednesday due to the superstitious beliefs that had become associated with the practice. The practice was too closely tied the Medieval doctrines of attrition, auricular confession, contrition, priestly absolution, and penance.
The imposition of ashes was not reintroduced into the Church of England and her daughter churches until the nineteenth century and then by the Ritualists. It was one of the errors in doctrine, practice, and ritual that the Romeward Movement revived to make the Anglican Church more like the Roman Catholic Church in the hopes that they would help to affect a reunion between the Church of England and the Church of Rome. 
And here I thought it had been an ancient Anglican thing. Read the rest in An Ashless Ash Wednesday for Anglicans here

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All of which reminds me of something Peter Kreeft wrote, I believe it was in Fundamentals of the Faith, "Hell is where you make an eternal ash of yourself." 

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Here's a good prayer to pray after all that: the Church of England version of the Collect for Ash Wednesday. 

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. 

Amen. With or without ashes.