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Orthodox Ash Wednesday?


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#1 Guest_Geraldine

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 09:47 PM

Does the Orthodox church celebrate Ash Wednesday in the same way as Anglicans, Lutherans and Catholics do? I know that lent doesn't start until later for the Orthodox, but I wondered if it starts the same way.

--geraldine


#2 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 17 February 2002 - 12:12 AM

Geraldine, welcome to the discussion community.

The Orthodox Church does not have an equivalent to the Western service of the ashes at the beginning of Lent. This is a tradition which developed independently, through an historical progression the details of which I cannot recall off hand. Perhaps someone more familiar with such things can fill in the details.

Orthodox Lent begins with two weeks of 'Pre-Lent', built around the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, and the Sunday of the Last Judgement (see this calendar for this year's dates), which begin to set the atmosphere for the coming fast through the commemoration of various Scriptural events and examples of humility, repentance, and conviction of sin. During this period of 'Pre-Lent', the fasting regimen of Great Lent is gradually begun, first giving up meets, then a week later all animal products for the start of the Fast proper.

The actual entrance into Great Lent is celebrated in the service of the Vespers of Forgiveness, on the eve of the first day of Lent itself. At this evening service, all members of the parish gather together to pray for God's blessing on the beginning of the Fast, to say for the first time the Lenten prayers that will resound through the coming weeks, and then to ask for forgiveness. In the usual Russian/Slavic practise, the Vespers of Forgiveness involves each person in the parish asking for, and granting, forgiveness to and from each other person in the community. Thus Lent is begun.

As you can see, it is a very different tradition from that embraced by the West, though certain themes are obviously apparent in both.

INXC, Matthew


#3 Paul Cowan

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 02:25 AM

I was asked about this today by the many RC in my office. I do not know the background to Ash Wednesday, but I shared with them what Fr. has above and mentioned perhaps their ashes are from those used on funeral ceremonies as ours are and perhaps our Soul Saturday was our version of it.

I probably should have just done what the fathers say when you don't anything about anything and just kept my mouth shut.

PS: On a side note, I think this is the oldest thread I have ever come across in the forum.

#4 Allen Long

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 02:37 AM

In my previous Protestant church, the ashes were from the palm branches used in the previous year's Palm Sunday service.

#5 Christophoros

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 12:48 PM

Does the Orthodox church celebrate Ash Wednesday in the same way as Anglicans, Lutherans and Catholics do? I know that lent doesn't start until later for the Orthodox, but I wondered if it starts the same way.

--geraldine


Of course, they may be a bit controversial, but there are some Orthodox who celebrate Ash Wednesday and mark it as their beginning of Lent - the Western Rite Orthodox.

#6 Joshua G.

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 02:06 PM

In my previous Protestant church, the ashes were from the palm branches used in the previous year's Palm Sunday service.


From what I have read in Catholic sources and have learned from Catholics themselves, this is where the RCC gets their ashes from as well (at least traditionally). I believe many parishes that may find it difficult to start a bonfire actually order the ashes from a company that gets their ashes by burning palm branches (I don't know if they are from Palm Sunday, though).

Joshua

#7 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 02:23 PM

I used to see people all of the time on Ash Wednesday that had been to the service, but I didn't see anyone yesterday. I was curious as to how old the practice is, and the Catholic Encyclopedia article says that it dates at least from the 8th century.

http://www.newadvent...then/01775b.htm

Sbdn. Anthony

#8 Joshua G.

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 07:24 PM

That's a good question. According to the Catholic Encycolpedia, the earliest documented example of this practice seems to be in the 10th century on the British Isle.

I had heard that it was connected to St Francis of Asisis in some way. Right now I can't find anything confirming that. Does anyone else know about that?

Joshua

#9 Robin Elizabeth

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 07:55 PM

I worked at a Catholic store in a large city for a number of years and all of the RC Churches there bought their ashes when they bought their palms. If I remember correctly, they were made by the supplier from the palms that remained unsold from the previous Easter. To the best of my knowledge no church makes there own ashes anymore.

#10 Michael Astley

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 08:09 PM

I worked at a Catholic store in a large city for a number of years and all of the RC Churches there bought their ashes when they bought their palms. If I remember correctly, they were made by the supplier from the palms that remained unsold from the previous Easter. To the best of my knowledge no church makes there own ashes anymore.


In my experience, many churches make their own ash by burning the palms. My old Anglican parishes all do. As sacristan at two of them, it was my job to do the burning. The people keep their palms in their homes, in the prayer space if they have one, and to bring them back the following year.

I have been present at an Orthodox Ash Wednesday service where I received the ash, for which charcoal ash from the censer was used.

In Christ,
Michael

#11 Olga

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 10:12 PM

I have been present at an Orthodox Ash Wednesday service where I received the ash, for which charcoal ash from the censer was used.


Pardon my confusion, but would this "Orthodox Ash Wednesday" be on the Wednesday of the first week of Lent, or on the preceding Wednesday? Also are there any liturgical services or rubrics which point to this?

#12 Michael Astley

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 10:27 PM

Pardon my confusion, but would this "Orthodox Ash Wednesday" be on the Wednesday of the first week of Lent, or on the preceding Wednesday? Also are there any liturgical services or rubrics which point to this?


It was a Western Rite service, Olga. In the Western Rite, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, following a series of pre-Lenten Sundays, and falling 46 days before Pascha. The rubrics will be in the sevrice books of the Western Rite. I have the St Colman Prayer Book in loose-leaf format somewhere and can probably dig out the rubrics if you'd like. This is one of the service books blessed for use in ROCOR by Metropolitan Hilarion and is, I believe, in regular use in at least two of our dioceses.

I happened to have a Western Rite priest as a house guest on Ash Wednesday one year so we did the services in our prayer room here at the house.

In Christ,
Michael

#13 Robin Elizabeth

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 12:43 AM

"In my experience, many churches make their own ash by burning the palms. My old Anglican parishes all do. As sacristan at two of them, it was my job to do the burning. The people keep their palms in their homes, in the prayer space if they have one, and to bring them back the following year.

I have been present at an Orthodox Ash Wednesday service where I received the ash, for which charcoal ash from the censer was used."

Sorry for any misunderstanding, but I was refering specifically of Catholic practice in the area I'm from. Since I am not Protestant or eastern rite I can't speak to that.

#14 Michael Astley

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 08:53 PM

Dear Robin Elizabeth,

I am sorry. I didn't mean to say that you were wrong but only that our experiences have been different. I suppose it varies depending on where you are. :-)

In Christ,
Michael




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