Ash Wednesday – A Time For Preparation

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is a Latin Rite (i.e. Roman) Catholic. Stanczyk does not wear blinders. I also observe what the Eastern Rite Catholics follow and think and try to be integrative of their tradistions, as I have with moje zona’s Jewish Traditions. Lent is a season of 40 days. It is assigned a symbolism as roughly equivalent to Jesus’ 40 days of fast and temptation. The count of days to be 40, also matches the count of years that Moses and the Israelites roamed the deserts in their exodus from Egypt to the Holy Land. Going further back still we see that Noah’s Flood, The Great Deluge, lasted 40 days.

It therefore should be understood, that the number 40, symbolically equates to “Preparation”. Stanczyk will leave  it as an exercise for you the righteous reader to reflect and to understand what was the preparation in each of those three events. So what are we preparing for in Lent? From the Coptics, they declare it is a time of spiritual struggle or a time to draw closer to G-d. It is funny that those two phrases make me think of Israel (the person,  not the nation). His name means, ‘Wrestles with G-d”. Spiritual Struggle, Drawing Closer to G-d. So perhaps this is a time for Israel (not the person, not the nation, but the collective of all G-d’s people) to prepare.

Let me end this musing with the Coptic tradition of the six weeks of Lent (they also have a preparatory week and a Holy Week) so they actually celebrate 56 days (40 days of Lent, 9 other days of fasts, Holy Week[Monday after Palm Sunday through Saturday the eve of Easter], plus EASTER, the Great Day). Here are how they observe their six weeks of Lent:

  • Week 1 – “Struggle”, ends with the Sunday reading of the “Temptation in the Wilderness”
  • Week 2 – “Repentance”, ends with the Sunday reading of the “The Prodigal Son”
  • Week 3 – “The Gospel”, ends with the Sunday reading of the “Samaritan Woman”
  • Week 4 – “Faith”, ends with the Sunday reading of the “Healing the Paralytic”
  • Week 5 – “Baptism”, ends with the Sunday reading of the “Healing the Blind Man”
  • Week 6 – “Salvation”, ends with the Sunday reading of the “Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem on Palms Sunday” [Palm Sunday]

Each of the days has a reading associated with it [not just the Sunday reading which is the emphasis of the week]. Many good readings and blessings of the season to those of faith.

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