Note: I know Lent started a week ago. But this is a Beginner’s Guide to Lent, not a Guide to the Beginning of Lent. Timeliness isn’t always a concern at NPI.
I grew up in a Roman Catholic neighborhood, going to Roman Catholic schools, and attending Roman Catholic Mass every Sunday. So the idea of Lent is fairly simple and straightforward to me.
But every once in a while, someone like Josh—who you may have been able to infer did not grow up in a Roman Catholic neighborhood, go to Roman Catholic school, and attend Roman Catholic Mass every Sunday—reminds me that certain things we Catholics do—like “put that cross on our heads” (his words, not mine)—strike others as awfully strange.
Lent, of course, starts on Ash Wednesday, which is not, contrary to popular belief, a holy day of obligation. Still, any good Catholic will attend a short prayer service, which typically entails a reading, a Gospel, a brief sermon, and the distribution of ashes. The ashes are meant to remind us that we were made from dust and to dust we shall return. As a result, my high school’s prayer service always concluded by playing the sacred recording, “Dust in the Wind,” by Kansas.