In Good Company

(It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since I had the honor of visiting The Church of the Company of Jesus in Quito, Ecuador. When I arrived, I was given a pamphlet about the church which I had never read – until today. The fact that it’s in Spanish isn’t a problem given that my Spanish has finally gotten usable and for the most part I understand what it’s saying. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, I’ve included the Google Translate version towards the end – with some minor corrections as there were some flaws.)

Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesús

Quito, Ecuador

La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús

Quito – Ecuador

La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, cumbre del barroco latinoamericano, construido por vario jesuitas entre 1605 y 1765, fue inspirada en dos emblemáticos templos jesuitas romanos: Il Gesú y San Ignacio.
El templo tiene planta de cruz latina, nave central, norte y sur, transepto, crucero, presbiterio, antesacristía, sacristía y capilla. La nave central cubiera por una bóveda de 26 m de altura, realiza con ladrillo y piedra pómez y finalmente decorada con yesería, policromía y pan de oro en estilo mudéjar, es un importante aporte a la arquitectura colonial quiteña del Hermano jesuita italiano Marcos Guerra, quen colaboró también con la construcción de las cúpulas ubicadas in las naves laterales y en la cúpula mayor del crucero.
El templo de la Compañía fue levantado con las manos de innumerables artistas de la Escuela Quiteña, quenes perpetuaron su habilidad y entrega para tallar y dorar con fina lámina de oro de 23 kilates cada centímetro de la iglesia.
Durante 160 años se edificó y decoró la iglesia con magníficas obras de arte; muestra de ello son los 16 Javier Goríbar, artista quiteño del siglo XVIII. Al pincel de Hernando de la Cruz se le atribuyen los dos grandes lienzos originales del Infierno y del Juicio FInal, obras Alejandro Salas en el siglo XIX hoy se ubican en los extremos norte y sur de la iglesia. Se admiran en las enjustas sobre los arcos de medio punto de la nave central las escenas bíblias de Sansón y Dalila, y de José, hijo de Jacob, obras anónimas del siglo SVIII. En las naves laterales se destacan 6 imponentes retablos atribidos a la afamada escuela de arte quiteño del siglo XVIII: el de San José, El Calvario, y San Luis Gonzaga en la nave norte y La Virgen de Loreto, La Inmaculada y San Estanislao de Kostka en la nave sur. En los transeptos norte y sur sobresalen los retablos gemelos de San Francisco Javier y San Ignacio respectivamente, atribuidos también a Marcos Guerra, y en el presbiterio destaca el dorado del retablo mayer realizado por el tran imaginero colonial quiteño Bernardo de Legarda.
La fachada de la iglesia es una sobresaliente obra de estilo barroco, construida toda en piedra gris de origen volcánico. Tiene cada espacio cubierto con el más mínimo detalle finalmente labrado; así se admiran flores, ángeles, arcángeles, símbolos eclesiásticos y varias imágenes representativas entre las que se descubren: …
Dos hechos religiosos importantes están ligados a la Iglesia de la Compañía: uno de estos fue el fugaz paso de Mariana de Jesús, la primera santa ecuatoriana que se consagró en este templo y lo escogió para morar para siempre; Mariana murió en 1645 (siglo XVII) y es en el altar mayor donde ahora se veneran sus restos. El milagro de la imagen de la Virgen Dolorosa del Colegio, es también un hecho de fe profunda sucedido en el comedor del antiguo Colegio San Gabriel en el interior del edificio jesuita, el 20 de abril de 1906.
La torre de la iglesia, en época colonial reconocida como la más alta de la ciudad, sufrió dos embates telúricos: en 1859 el primero, luego de lo cual fe reconstruida, y en 1868 , año desde el que permanece tal como lo conecemos.
Durante los últimos diecinueve años, 1987-2005, la iglesia ha vivido un importante proceso de restauración integral, el mismo que ha sido reconocido por el profesionalismo con el que instituciones nacionales así como centenares de técnicos, arquitectos, restauradores, y obreros realizaron, con abnegado trabajo y mística personal para alcanzar la total restaución del templo.
La Residencia San Ignacio y la Fundación Iglesia de la Compañía encargadas de la conservación y mantenimiento del templo le invitan a admirar la iglesia y de esta forma apoyar en la promoción del compromiso que como ecuatorianos tenemos de preservar este legado cultural.


The Church of the Company of Jesus
Quito, Ecuador
The Church of the Company of Jesus, serves as a peak example of the Latin American baroque church, was built by several Jesuits between 1605 and 1765, and was inspired by two emblematic Roman Jesuit temples: Il Gesu and San Ignacio.
The temple has a Latin cross plant, central nave, north and south, transept, transept, presbytery, antechrist, sacristy and chapel. The central nave was covered by a vault of 26 m high, made with brick and pumice stone and finally decorated with plasterwork, polychrome and gold leaf in Mudejar style, is an important contribution to the colonial architecture of the Italian Jesuit Brother Marcos Guerra, Who also collaborated with the construction of the domes located in the lateral naves and in the greater dome of the transept.
The Temple of the Company was erected with the hands of countless artists of the Quito School, who perpetuated their ability and delivery to carve and gild with a fine 23-karat gold foil on every inch of the church.
For 160 years the church was built and decorated with magnificent works of art; 16 Javier Goríbar, an eighteenth-century artist from Quito. Hernando de la Cruz’s brush is attributed the two great original canvases of Hell and Final Judgment, the works of Alejandro Salas in the nineteenth century today are located at the north and south ends of the church. The bible scenes of Samson and Delilah, and Joseph, son of Jacob, as well as anonymous works of the SVIII century, are admired in the area over the arches of the central nave of the central nave. In the side aisles there are 6 imposing altarpieces attributed to the famous eighteenth-century Quito school of art: San José, El Calvario, and San Luis Gonzaga in the north nave and La Virgen de Loreto, La Inmaculada and San Estanislao de Kostka in the southern nave. In the northern and southern transepts, the twin altarpieces of San Francisco Javier and San Ignacio, respectively, also attributed to Marcos Guerra, and in the presbytery stands out the gold of the greater altarpiece made by the visionary colonial of Quito, Bernardo de Legarda.
The facade of the church is an outstanding work of Baroque style, all built in gray stone of volcanic origin. It has each space covered with the finest detail exquisitely worked; Flowers, angels, archangels, ecclesiastical symbols and several representative images among which are discovered: …
Two important religious events are linked to the Church of the Company: one of these was the fleeting passage of Mariana de Jesus, the first Ecuadorian saint to be consecrated in this temple and chose to live forever; Mariana died in 1645 (seventeenth century) and it is on the main altar where her remains are now venerated. The miracle of the image of the Sorrowful Virgin of the College is also a fact of deep faith happened in the dining room of the old San Gabriel College inside the Jesuit building, on April 20, 1906.
The tower of the church, in colonial times was recognized as the highest of the city, suffered two earthquakes: in 1859 the first, after which was rebuilt faithfully, and in  the year 1868, from which it remains as we now know it.
During the last nineteen years, 1987-2005, the church has undergone an important process of integral restoration, which has been recognized by the professionalism with which national institutions as well as hundreds of technicians, architects, restorers and selfless workers and church ministers to achieve the total restoration of the temple.
The San Ignacio Residence and the Church Foundation of the Company in charge of the conservation and maintenance of the temple invite you to admire the church and in this way support in the promotion of the commitment that we as Ecuadorians have to preserve this cultural legacy.

Do We Wish to Continue?

I’m not sure that I really want to go back to church. What is there for me there? I know – you read those words and think: “That’s a millennial for you, all worried about me, me, me, I, I, I … why when I was their age, it wasn’t all about me!”

Perhaps you fit with your church so much like a hand in a glove that you no longer think of yourself and how much you belong and what it’s like to feel united as one, like-minded, and as having a common purpose; but were your situation like that of a mismatched glove, too small and tight or too large and loose – you just might feel differently. Were you to find yourself in a church whose ministries are geared to people whose life stations are the opposite of your own and you were the odd man (or one) out you might wonder if you belong there at all.

I really wanted to be optimistic about finding the right church this year, but knowing that religious institutions are among the most slowly moving organizations of all and least likely to accept any degree of change, the reality is this year will be almost exactly like the last one – the biggest difference is that every bulletin will no longer be dated 2016, but 2017.

That degree of consistency might be comforting to anyone opposed to change. Change is always scary, after all. You can’t control it and you never know what might result. The same cannot be said if you don’t change – you have thorough control and always know what results before you do something because it’s the same the last time you did it and will be the same the next time you do it.

The fact that so many things haven’t changed is what bothers me. Too many churches still don’t see me for who I am, but for what I’m not – not yet married, not yet a parent, not yet mature, not yet selfless, not yet etc. I know, you’re thinking that not all churches are like that – it’s just not possible. If you hold to the idea that anything’s possible, then it most certainly is possible to find yourself in a region where pretty much all the churches that are within driving distance are like that to some degree – some worse than others.

I most certainly do not want to go back to that church – the ones that haven’t changed, that still play favorites, the ones that slam doors shut and lock the wrong people out. Knowing the glacially slow pace that churches tend to adopt and finally accept change, it makes me wonder if there will be a day in my lifetime when I can once again go to church and find somewhere I belong.

Perhaps we just don’t see that changes need to be made. As it turns out, one reason why some people are prone to skipping out on chores is because they don’t see that they are are a problem that needs to be done – they have to get noticeably worse before action is taken. What did it take for our society to take pollution seriously? The Cuyahoga River catching fire! Actually, the river caught fire several times, the first one wasn’t enough to spark lasting change, neither was the second, third, fourth … and so on – it was the last fire that enough damage had been done that people decided to take action and make lasting change for the better. Think about it – there wasn’t a problem with the pollution five minutes before that last fire even with all the previous fires on record.

Thing is – there is a lot of spiritual pollution in Christianity, our pure spring water has become mixed with a lot of toxic teachings, derogatory language, disastrous theology, and no shortage of scandals that for some reason or another should have been the last nail in the coffin – but for some unknown reason wasn’t. It seems that we’re not on that brink of disaster where we ask ourselves: “What have we been doing? We have got to stop!” The one where we repent, make a one hundred eighty degree turn and make lasting changes. We haven’t had that last fire yet. That’s what scares me – because it would have to be pretty bad in order to get us to change our ways and I don’t want people to get hurt.

The thing is – it would hurt even more to not change, but the church can’t see it either. Not changing doesn’t solve existing problems. Not changing got us to where we are now, looking around wondering where everyone went. Not changing is not what we’re here for or meant to do. Some degree of change is necessary – vital to continue living. Change then, is a tricky balance, unavoidable and indispensable if we are to continue, then we must change. So I can only conclude that the question is: “Do we wish to continue?”

11/11: Singles’ Day

Growing up, there was ever one valid verse on singleness that was regularly preached from the Bible: ” Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9) It was always interpreted as an impossible task; so the emphasis on this verse wasn’t on how good singleness was, but on how necessary marriage is. As if being tempted and losing control was a foregone conclusion and only marriage could serve as the proper outlet for one’s passions – this was something without exception. For some odd reason, the rest of 1 Corinthians 7 was never included on the discussion of singleness, but to be fair, they never really talked about singleness except to use it as a segue onto marriage, the only thing the church really cares about. Had they read the rest of it, they might have seen this passage (among others):

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Christianity finds itself in a world of increasing singleness; to which it’s sole response is to continually preach about marriage and only marriage as the right way to live. It’s failure to speak to singleness means that an increasing number of people are being sent the wrong message – one that says that they’re selfish or immature for not having graduated to the next level and they have nothing to say to them until they do.

But the thing is – the stories of the Bible aren’t just stories of husbands for husbands to replicate or examples of wives for wives to follow – they’re human stories featuring a cast of characters from all walks of life; old, young, married, single, wealthy, poor, in a simple relationship, in a complicated relationship, from a good family, from a bad family – for many of these people and their stories, their marriage isn’t exactly the most important thing about them. After all, we know that David and Saul were both very married, but you’d be hard pressed to find mention of all their wives by names. Deborah was married, but there’s barely a mention of her husband – probably because being married is a part of their story, but it is not who they are as people.

Which is something singles need to hear – being single is a part of your story, but it’s not necessarily who you are as a person. The pressure to marry young and have children early is a way of keeping a young couple busy – by taking away any time they might have used to figure out who they were, what they like, but it’s also a dangerous time as a young person might realize that they’re quite capable and not necessarily helpless on their own. They run the risk of getting set in their ways – which explains why there’s the rush to get young people married. But for the long-term single, he or she has all the time in the world to write their own story and find that which brings him or her satisfaction and happiness. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world. Instead of bringing self-doubt to into any future relationship, self-knowledge creates a firm foundation of confidence and a frame of reference for someone you’re getting to know and someone who is getting to know you.

And some, like a co-worker of mine, is quite happy in his singleness and not looking to change that in the foreseeable future. Why should he continually be subjected to messages like: “You’re not really happy unless you’re dating/married!”? Maybe it’s more of a self-fulfilling prophecy, the churches’ relentless messages about marriage, singles feeling frustrated about their situation, wondering if the grass truly is greener on the other side … it’s just that the church never really puts that shoe on the other foot.

“You married people will be single again one day, perhaps you’ll be widows and widowers, so pay attention to these directions so that you’ll know how to live …”
But the core of Christianity is a message for anyone from any walk of life, that you are loved, that you have a spiritual family, that you are needed, that sort of thing. And so here’s to the ones who are so very often left out and on their own. May you find your long-due measure of happiness. As for me, I’m having a slice of Singles’ Day cake … and then maybe a game of solitaire. Let’s do what the world doesn’t celebrate every one of us – because there will only be one of each of us.

Couldn’t Care Less

So many times, people tell me how amazing and wonderful worship is. Oftentimes, I wonder if they’d be as enthusiastic about the worship in my church. The sanctuary was built a few years ago, it’s a fairly standard and simple design, like most churches I’ve attended, there are two rows of pews arranged in two vertical rectangles that are longer than they are wide. The rows themselves are on a diagonal. The walls are a clean white with the occasional large window, there is light-colored stained wood for the pews (with pink or purple cushions that match the carpet, I forget which), for the pulpit, for the rail along the stairs, for the altar. That’s a pretty thorough description of the location. The atmosphere is generally one of family, friends, and neighbors catching up with each other. They certainly do talk to each other.

When it comes time for the music to start, things change. Like on Sunday; while the lyrics for the hymn were being displayed on the screen, I couldn’t help but notice that there was quite a few disinterested parties in the building. Perhaps it was the conversations in the midst of the music or playing with their hair, it seemed like people were finding other things to do than to sing along with the worship music.Singing ceases to be the priority.

I think that’s something that people aren’t always anxious to talk about. How no matter what you do and no matter what you don’t do, there will always be disinterested parties. I think that for a lot of young people in this area, going to church is expected of them and so they show up, but they don’t have to like it. The disinterested parties just check out and don’t bother to sing at all. Sometimes I’m one of them – I just do a better job of hiding it by lip-syncing. I can only imagine how churches in regions with better internet might have a number of youth texting each other, oblivious to what’s going on, be it music or preaching. Is that the case? I don’t know. As to the older ones who are disinterested, it can be for a variety of reasons: the stale routine has gotten old, they passionately dislike the music, they have a lot on their minds, anything really.

They’re not the only ones though. Every time the choir is tasked with a contemporary song, they don’t do it justice. It’s not that they don’t sing the sheet music flawlessly, they do, but they sing contemporary music in a different way than they sing hymns. It’s the difference between having to sing a song you can’t stand and getting to sing a song you absolutely love.

Next Sunday, take a look around. Whatever worship ‘does’ for you, it doesn’t do for the disinterested. And there’s no guarantee that changing worship so that it ‘does’ something for others won’t turn you into a disinterested party in the process. It’s like worship these days is a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other, but never really able to stay in that sweet spot. For those of you whose worship “works” and “does” for you, it’s probably difficult to imagine what it is to be in a church with uninteresting worship that doesn’t work and doesn’t do anything for you. It’s a lot like having to watch that movie you can’t stand because somebody you love adores it. It’s a lot like having to read that book you despise because somebody you love admires it. It’s a lot like having to do that dance you hate because somebody you love enjoys it.

I know – I’ve been told, if you can’t stand the church go somewhere else. That only works then there is somewhere else to go. Virtual worship, watching sermons and worship sets over the internet is just somehow not the same. It certainly wouldn’t be for our traditional church – just imagine it!

“Welcome brothers and sisters, and everyone else watching us over the internet! First, let’s take a moment to meet’n’greet one another, be sure to make everyone feel welcome. Then we’ll sing hymn 724, verses 1 and 4.”

The person at home has no one to meet and greet, no one to ask about their health or family, and no one to ask them how their day has been. When it comes time to sing, the echo of a lone voice from four nearby walls serves as a reminder of what isn’t there – dozens of other voices that fill up the air, altogether rising and falling in unison. The feel of worship just isn’t there when it doesn’t feel like worship or even remotely resemble it. That’s why it doesn’t work – traditional or contemporary – over the television, over the computer, over the radio.

All it really does is turn the watcher / listener into a spectator who can see and/or hear what others are doing, but cannot interact with the others that are doing whatever they’re doing. Like my church, it broadcasts it’s services over the radio – somebody at home can listen in, but they cannot become part of the broadcast itself, singing for everyone to hear, meeting and greeting one another. Worshiping at home very much becomes like being the person who worships outside of the church doors, but can bring himself or herself to join everyone else – knowing that ‘where two or three are gathered, I am there” it’s basically a church service of one.

I just can’t think of any good solutions – what works for you is what works for you, and what works for another might not be something that works for you. I think when it comes down to it, you just can’t make somebody else interested in something that interests you because they aren’t you. The problem with church worship service is that they’re pretty unchanging. It’s all about doing things they way they’ve always been done, in the order they’ve always been done, and not deviating from that as much as humanly possible. But if you aren’t going to be able to make changes happen, then you shouldn’t be surprised when one by one, disinterested parties begin to disappear. If there’s nothing for them in the church service, there’s nothing for them to stick around for and no reason for them to show up at all.

And it’s not enough to do an occasional contemporary song if it sounds like you’d rather be anywhere else doing anything else – but at least the shoe would be on the other foot for a little while and it would give you a context as to how others feel. It just makes me wonder if there was the same tug-of-war worship experience decades ago and centuries ago, as people became polarized over the subject. I know that when I read about the Great Awakening, part of the conflict was that the New Lights were getting into more emotional worship and had stepped away from the more stoic worship favored by the Old Lights. Even Martin Luther felt that music should be emotionally moving. And yet for all these swings toward allowing emotion, tradition swings back to the other extreme …

“You can’t rely on you what you feel!” “If you don’t feel God, does that mean that God has forsaken you?” “God wants you to worship him whether you feel like it or not!” “How can you be sure that Satan isn’t the one playing on your emotions right now and not God?” “What you’re really worshiping is emotions, not God.” … I’ve heard it all, and then some.

It’s worthwhile to not that some people believe that feeling any hint of emotion during worship cheapens it, so the disinterested attendees are actually offering true worship in that they are not emotional, not sentimental, and not swept up by the music (or at least, they would be if they were singing along with the rest) – at least, according to some. Whereas those who participate and are emotional, sentimental, and caught up by the music are actually worshiping their own feelings. Fortunately, the idea that “emotion cheapens the experience” didn’t really catch on. Because to anybody else, having a conversation with somebody else or playing with one’s hair when you’re supposed to be singing really wouldn’t be worshiping, it would be boredom.

Another consideration is that in this region, churches in the same denomination are just like the one down the street from it. Our church is actually two, the same people sing the same songs, one at ten at location a, the other at eleven at location b. If one person felt that the o’clock church was the right denomination but wasn’t their cup of tea, they could go to the o’clock that’s pretty much exactly like it. Why is it that churches in the same denomination do not offer a variety of services particularly when they’re in the same area?

But when you say that your worship is great and excellent, is that an empirical fact or a statement of emotion? If every ounce of joy, every drop of delight, every gram of happiness and all other emotions were zapped out of existence for the duration of worship music – what do you get? Songs with no resonance or bounce, just words sung to a tune as correctly and as unemotionally as possible. That just doesn’t sound like worship to me. I just can’t help but wonder – if some of the regulars are disinterested now, then what will worship become in the years to come? It probably won’t be much different, just as empty with just as many people not interested in what’s going on. The former solution – separate and form different services for different people works only as long as the congregation can support it (both put up with it and finance it.) But to do that, they would have to be interested in it in the first place.

 

Holy Week Should be a Bigger Deal Than it is

JesusSpinolaSemanaSanta

Sometimes I think it wouldn’t hurt Protestants to learn a thing or two from our Catholic brothers and sisters. This is Holy Week … Semana Santa. Every day of the week, a cofradía (a confraternity – a brotherhood made up of laypeople who promote the church) or hermanos / hermandades (a fraternity) will march out of the church carrying a paso (a large wooden float with an image of Jesus in a Bible scene or an image of the Virgin Mary, they are decorated, covered in gold, and considered to be among the finest religious art in existence – they are a cultural treasure. Some of the brothers will be wearing nazareno robes and capirote hats – tall pointed hats with a mask attached to them. It is an ancient costume – worn for hundreds of years to allow the penitent person to remain safely anonymous. They will slowly march through the streets, carrying this massive float, accompanies by musicians, by singers, by incense, and by a crowd of onlookers who are waiting to hear the story – what the paso represents. Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) features an image of Jesus on a donkey. On Monday, another brotherhood from one of the other churches will carry a different float – from their church, to the city center and back. It takes hours – as they stop to tell the story, to switch out the brothers carrying the float with others who are fresh and their muscles are not tired. On certain days of the week, women are expected to wear black mantillas – black lace veils that are often secured by combs – as a sign of morning for the Lord. This tradition appears in scattered historical accounts going as far back as the year 1350 – over the centuries it has changed bit by bit. At first, women weren’t exactly allowed to be part of the processions. In 1984, four women secretly dressed up in nazareno robes and capirote hats and joined the procession. It wasn’t until much later did they inform the brothers that they had participated without causing a disruption in the proceedings. By the next year, a cofradía had voted to allow women in processions. Soon, many other cofradías also voted to allow women to participate. Just five years ago, a woman stepped up and lead the procession of her cofradía.

I first learned about Holy Week while watching episode two “el comienzo” of Destinos an Introduction to Español: https://learner.org/series/destinos/watch/index.html?ep3 @15:00-16:30. It fascinated me to see so much religious devotion on public display. It’s even more amazing to watch the proceedings on Youtube channels and live streams – but I think being there would be the best thing of all. It got me to wondering why my church doesn’t seem to make that big of a deal of Holy Week. At most, we have Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, but the rest of the days of the week are just like any other. We don’t really celebrate the whole story – one day at a time.

Holy Week in Seville: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week_in_Seville

Holy Week in Spain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week_in_Spain

More info about Semana Santa Traditions: http://www.exploreseville.com/events/semana-santa.htm

So, I guess the question is – how are we going to make a big deal out of Holy Week this week? Any thoughts?

Looking Back at Ash Wednesday

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In Western Christianity, before Lent begins, Fat Tuesday / Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras is everyone’s last chance to indulge. Traditionally, the foods that people are supposed to fast from during Lent are cooked up and used up and served. After all, the ancient world didn’t really have refrigeration, so they had to either use it or lose it – throw it out. Pancakes breakfasts, eating pizza – if it uses up flour, odds are it’s on the menu. Carnival is also associated with this time – big parties go on, giving a chance for people to go wild. Carnival comes from the Latin words ‘Carne vale’ or ‘farewell to meat/flesh’.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the start of the season of fasting and prayer. During mass, the ashes from the palm fronds that were blessed the previous year are used to mark believers with a cross on their foreheads. The priests will say either: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” or “Repent, and believe the gospel.” Ashes serve as a visible symbol of penance and a reminder of our mortality.

Fasting doesn’t mean that believers must not eat at all, rather they are permitted to eat one normal meal and two smaller meals that do not add up to the same size as the larger meal. Snacks are not permitted. There are some exceptions to fasting, small children, pregnant women, and elderly men and women are not required to fast as it would be dangerous to their health. Also, believers are to abstain form eating meat on Fridays, but they can eat fish. Throughout Lent, believers fast in this manner, however Sundays are exempt from fasting as they are not as a part of Lent.

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credit goes to the source: http://www.catholic.org/

Clean Monday, the Start of Clean Week

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It shouldn’t be surprising that when the church began to split, it’s practices and teachings began to differ, particularly in the celebration of Lent. So let’s take a look at how one Christian tradition begins Lent …

In Eastern Christianity, the first day of Great Lent is Clean Monday, which is two days before Ash Wednesday. It is a day that focuses on setting behind believers sinful attitudes and non-fasting foods. On the Liturgical Calendar, Lent actually begins the night before at a special service called Forgiveness Vespers which features the Ceremony of Mutual Forgiveness. It’s when everyone who is present bows down before one another and asks for forgiveness. This lets them begin Lent with a clean conscience, with forgiveness, and with renewed Christian love. Going to confession and cleaning one’s house thoroughly are also apart of the first week of Lent.

At the 6th hour (which would be 12’o’clock noon) Isaiah 1:1-20 is to be read. Clean Monday is based on theses verses in particular: “Wash yourselves and ye shall be clean; put away the wicked ways from your souls before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well. Seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow. Come then, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and though they be red like crimson, I will make them white as wool (vv. 16–8).”

Clean Monday happens to be a public holiday in Cyprus and Greece – it has a happy, springtime feeling to it because of Matthew 6:14-21 (which is read on the morning before):
When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret… (v. 16-18).

Ash Wednesday is not observed in Eastern Christianity, so that’s how they get Lent started.

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Lots of credit goes to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Monday for giving me the particular info on it – this should be an interesting series!