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Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Lamb

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

Recently, I stumbled across an email I sent in 2010!

Have you ever read something you wrote in the past and thought, “Wow, I wrote that?”

That’s exactly what I did when I read this email so many years later.

It appears that it was a written response to an email sent to me by very close friend.  His email contained the blog article posted in  Biblical Archaeology Society’s Bible History Daily titled “Was Jesus’ Last Supper A Seder?”  The link in the email no longer works.  However, I googled the article and found the new link HERE.

After I completed the email, I Cc’ed it to many of my close friends.  Today, I am sharing it with you.  Enjoy!

Thank you for the link to the interesting article.  I enjoyed reading different perspectives on a tradition that has been celebrated in the Church for almost 2000 years.  With that, I am Bcc’ing it to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for their enjoyment.  But before I do, I’d like to make a few points where I believe the author erred.  

Like many Christians, the author makes the grand mistake in believing that the synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John do not match. Therefore, his judgment that the Last Supper cannot be a Passover meal is sadly incorrect. 

Though not a Seder, which he correctly mentions was a tradition created after the fall of Jerusalem, all four Gospels do place the Last Supper on the same day,  Holy Thursday, … let me explain.

In Jewish tradition, if Passover (Nisan 14) lands on the Sabbath, Friday night, which the Gospels dictates was Good Friday, the pascal lamb slaughter occurs on Nisan 13, since slaughtering lambs is “work,” and the Passover feast takes place immediately following the slaughter, that night, which would be Nisan 13; or it is moved to Saturday night, Nisan 15, which is why Mark writes, “The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to take place in two days’ time.” 14:1

With that, Luke 22:7 mentions that the Passover meal takes place on “day of sacrificing the lamb”, which was Nisan 13; Matthew 26:17 “on the first day” — again Nisan 13 — because, as Mark tells us, Passover (or the night of Passover meal) is now taking place over two days [Nisan 13 or Nisan 15]; and John 13:1 confirms this by stating that the meal took place on Nisan 13 “before the feast of Passover” (Nisan 14.)  [NOTE: St. John’s use of this term will make more sense when the Quartodecimen Controversy is discussed below.] 

Therefore, the Last Supper took place in all four Gospels on Thursday, Nisan 13.

What does this mean?  It means that the only lamb slaughtered on Nisan 14, the only sacrifice that took place on Nisan 14, the true Passover, was the sacrifice of the true Pascal Lamb, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, Whose Blood washed away our sins. 

Truthfully, that’s all that really matters. 

[Spiritually,] the following does not really matter.  However, I promised to mention the Quartodecimen Controversy, so for you DieHards, I’ll continue.  And, I’m on Spring Break….  

The placement of the Last Supper on conflicting days leads the author [of the article] into more error.  For example, he twists the Quartodecimen Controversy as a “Semitic plot” when he writes “… to encourage Christians to celebrate Easter on Passover would it not make sense to emphasize the fact that Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples just before he died?”

The writings of the Church Fathers, however, tell us that it was the followers of the author of the Gospel of John, St. John the Apostle — especially St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrma — who celebrated Easter after Passover (Nisan 14), not the followers of the synoptic authors, Matthew, Mark, & Luke, which would put in question that author’s belief that ‘John gets the Post-Passover date of the Last Supper correct.’ 

[Quartodecimen stands for 14 — as Nisan 14.  This practice caused “controversy” because the early Christians who followed this practice (e.g. the early followers of St. John the Apostle) celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord on the third DAY after Nisan 14 not the SUNDAY following Nisan 14.]

On a side note, Easter, like Passover, is still “lunar” based.  Easter ALWAYS falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon that follows the first day of Spring.

Finally, and even less important, the author continues to error when he writes, “The Orthodox churches preserve the earlier custom of using leavened bread.”

The Maronites (Syrian and Palestinian Christians), the Churches of Jerusalem and Alexandria, and the Armenians, all use unleavened bread.  

According to St Thomas Aquinas, in the beginning, both in the East and West, unleavened bread was used.  When the sect of the Ebionites arose, who wished that the Mosaic Law should be obligatory on all converts, so leavened bread was used [to combat the heresy]; and when this heresy ceased, the Latins again used unleavened bread, but the Greeks retained the use of leavened bread.  In short, leaven bread was used to break the heresy!

With that, the Latin rite can use leaven bread if no unleavened bread is available and vice versa; which means that it is a strongly held tradition (small t) that Jesus used unleavened bread at the Last Supper.  Latin-rite Catholics follow this tradition because of the belief that a “good Jew,” which Jesus undoubtedly was, would NOT have “leaven” in their house during the days of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, which begins on Nisan 14 and continues until Nisan 21…  [However, the Last Supper took place on Nisan 13.]

I’m not a theologian, but like I tell my wife “If I can figure this stuff out….”

Maybe much of the connection between Christ and the Passover lamb is lost on us English-speakers because we use term Easter to refer to the feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord.  Most of Christian world uses a variant of the word Pascha (Greek: Πάσχα).

  • Latin – Pascha or Festa Paschalia
  • Greek – Paskha
  • Bulgarian – Paskha
  • Danish – Paaske
  • Dutch – Pasen
  • Finnish – Pääsiäinen
  • French – Pâques
  • Indonesian – Paskah
  • Italian – Pasqua
  • Lower Rhine German – Paisken
  • Norwegian – Påske
  • Portuguese – Páscoa
  • Romanian – Pasti
  • Russian – Paskha
  • Spanish – Pascua
  • Swedish – Påsk
  • Welsh – Pasg

Pascha is a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew Pesach, both meaning Passover.

Recently, I discovered an interesting tidbit about the pascal lambs and the shepherds who visited the Infant Jesus at the time of his birth.  Some evidence points to the fact that the sheep that these shepherds tended to, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, where the Temple lambs raised to serve in Temple sacrifices, including Passover.  These lambs were believed to be “wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:12) to protect them and keep them “without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:19)

According to tradition, these “unblemished” lambs were sacrificed on Nisan 14 between noon and 3pm — the same time Christ hung on the cross.

The Passover “lamb in which was commanded to be wholly roasted,” wrote Justin Martyr,, a second century Christian, “was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.”

In short, Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes of way the sin of the world.”

And, isn’t it beautiful that this year’s Triduum takes place during the start of Passover.

Blessed Pascha! Chag Peasach Semeach!

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

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Icon of Peter and Andrew

Icon of Sts. Peter and Andrew that Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras gave to Pope Paul

Most American Christians believe that all Christians celebrate Easter on the same day. In fact, 2016, one of the U.S. presidential candidates, wrote this:

This weekend, Christians of every denomination remember the most transformative event in history – Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection – the ultimate sacrifice that redeemed the whole world.

The fact is not every Christian denomination remembers Christ’s resurrection on the same Sunday.  In fact, this year, for the majority of Americans, we will celebrate Easter on April 21.  However, this year, our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters, will celebrate the resurrection a week later on April 28.

So, why are there two Easters?

Historically, the early Church did not have a set date for Easter.  In fact, not every Christian remembered Christ’s resurrection on Sunday.

The Catholic Encyclopedia informs us, that according to Irenaeus, “St. Polycarp, who like the other Asiatics, kept Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon, whatever day of the week that might be, following therein the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the Apostle, came to Rome c. 150 about this very question, but could not be persuaded by Pope Anicetus to relinquish his Quartodeciman observance.”[1]

Interesting!

After that controversy ended, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that:

“…the second stage in the Easter controversy centers round the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). Granted that the great Easter festival was always to be held on a Sunday, and was not to coincide with a particular phase of the moon, which might occur on any day of the week, a new dispute arose as to the determination of the Sunday itself. The text of the decree of the Council of Nicaea which settled, or at least indicated a final settlement of, the difficulty has not been preserved to us, but we have an important document inserted in Eusebius’s “Life of Constantine” (III, xviii sq.). The emperor himself, writing to the Churches after the Council of Nicaea, exhorts them to adopt its conclusions and says among other things: “At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day. . . in the city of Rome and in Africa, throughout Italy and in Egypt. . . with entire unity of judgment.” [2]

As already stated, we don’t have the exact words of the great council, but we may safely infer from scattered notes that the council ruled:

  • that Easter must be celebrated by all throughout the world on the same Sunday;
  • that this Sunday must follow the fourteenth day of the paschal moon;
  • that that moon was to be accounted the paschal moon whose fourteenth day followed the spring equinox;
  • that some provision should be made, probably by the Church of Alexandria as best skilled in astronomical calculations, for determining the proper date of Easter and communicating it to the rest of the world.

This was not a perfect solution. But it appears, by 525 AD all the Christian communities of the world were celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord on the same Sunday.

So, what happened?

Why do Russian and Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter or Pascha, on one Sunday and everybody else celebrates the Resurrection of Our Lord on another Sunday?

Well, the Gregorian calendar happened — kinda.

According to Wiki: The Gregorian calendar, also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar, is internationally the most widely used civil calendar. It is named for Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582.

Wiki states: The calendar was a refinement to the Julian calendar amounting to a 0.002% correction in the length of the year. The motivation for the reform was to bring the date for the celebration of Easter to the time of the year in which it was celebrated when it was introduced by the early Church. Because the celebration of Easter was tied to the spring equinox, the Roman Catholic Church considered the steady drift in the date of Easter caused by the year being slightly too long to be undesirable. The reform was adopted initially by the Catholic countries of Europe. Protestants and Eastern Orthodox countries continued to use the traditional Julian calendar and adopted the Gregorian reform after a time, for the sake of convenience in international trade. The last European country to adopt the reform was Greece, in 1923.

Blah, blah, blah-blah, blaaaah!

However, the Orthodox Church vigorously opposes the use of the Gregorian calendar, writes Fr. Jon Magoulias, a Greek-Orthodox priest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Modesto, California.

This, he informs us, resulted in the West and East celebrating all Church feast days on different dates, the Orthodox celebrations always falling thirteen days behind the Western. [3]

In 1923, Fr. Jon Magoulias continued, an inter-Orthodox congress was held in Constantinople attended by representatives of some, but not all, Orthodox churches. This congress made the very controversial decision to follow a revised calendar that was essentially the same as the Gregorian calendar, for all things except the celebration of Pascha, which continued to be calculated according to the original Julian calendar.

The result being that today the Orthodox celebrate most feast days, like Christmas, Epiphany and the rest, at the same time as Western Christians and only Pascha and the feast days that are connected with it like Pentecost and the Ascension, are dated according to the Julian calendar and celebrated on different dates. [4]

Fr. Magoulias stated that for Orthodox, it is important to maintain the teachings and traditions of the Church intact and pure [5] — and I would argue, for Catholics, this applies as well.

But remember, I said the problem was that “the Gregorian calendar happened — kinda.” Well, the kinda is kinda important.

Catholics under the See of Peter believe Easter Sunday formula handed down by the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicea in 325 AD is:

The first Sunday which occurs after the first full moon (or more accurately after the first fourteenth day of the moon) following the vernal equinox.

For Orthodox Christians, who no longer recognized the Pontiff as first among equals, the formula is this:

Pascha is to be celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, following the first day of Spring (March 21 on the Julian calendar), but always after Jewish Passover.  (This year, Passover or Pesach begins at sundown on April 19th (Nisan 14)  and will continue for 7 days until Friday, the 26th of April.)

And, that’s the kinda that makes all the difference!

Because of this difference, Christians celebrate the most Holiest of our Holy days on different days. By doing this, it appears to me, that we are acting more like they who divided His garments by casting lots than those followers who near the cross of Jesus stood.

Personally, I think holding on to the tradition of the Julian calendar is a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face. We know it was an inaccurate measuring tool. It’s definitely not Divine. So, why continue to use it?

I understand that Orthodoxy can also point to Canon VII of the Holy Apostles to counter any argument against the Julian calendar.

For those unfamiliar, Canon VII states:

If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon celebrate the holy day of Easter before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed. However, in the same breath, Canons XLV and LVX of the Holy Apostles respectively state: “Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them” and “If any clergymen, or laymen, enter a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics, to pray, let him be both deposed and excommunicated.

To that I ask: “How close are these Canons adhered to today by Orthodox clergymen or laymen alike today?” (For the record: My Lutheran wife and I often hold hands in prayer and my kid’s dojo is held in the hall of a synagogue. Just saying.)

Now, I would never ask anyone to compromise their beliefs, but there has to be some wiggle room here. It’s also not my intent is to pick only on our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

To Catholics, I ask you to answer this: Is there 100% certainty that you got the Easter formula correct?

It appears that the formula was never written down. Heck, even the Colonel’s fried chicken recipe and the secret recipe for Coca Cola are written down somewhere.

And since even the followers of the Apostle John got the formula wrong and later adjusted their practice, maybe we can conclude our date formula for Easter does not meet the standard of “an infallible Church teaching”?

Maybe?

Since sharing the same Pascha in 2017, Christians will not celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ on the same day and at the same time throughout the world until 2034.

We need this to change — and there’s only two people who can truly make this happen: Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomaios.

Francis-Bartholomew-1

Catholic News Service photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters


Here’s several ways you can address a letter to Pope Francis.

  • His Holiness, Pope Francis PP. / 00120 Via del Pellegrino / Citta del Vaticano
  • His Holiness Pope Francis / Apostolic Palace / Vatican City
  • His Holiness Pope Francis / Vatican City State, 00120

Do not write “Italy” or “Rome” on the envelop as the country. The Vatican is considered its own independent nation.

Since, unlike previous popes, Pope Francis is living in Casa Santa Martha instead of the papal apartment, another address you can try is this:

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Saint Martha House
00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

Contact information for Patriarch Bartholomew His All-Holiness Bartholomew
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch:

Mailing Address of the Ecumenical Patriarchate:
Rum Patrikliği, Dr. Sadık Ahmet Cad. No. 19, 34083 Fatih-İstanbul, TURKEY
Tel:  +90 (212) 531.9670 – 6
Fax: +90 (212) 531.6533
E-mail: patriarchate@ec-patr.org

 

 

 

It’s time to call on the successors of Peter and Andrew to start acting more like brethren, and not children  (Cor 14:20).

 

Kalo Pascha! Festa Paschalia!

IMG_1353

 

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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ash-wednesday-corporation-you

 

Today is Ash Wednesday.

For six years, I lived and worked in Southern California, within the bounds of the largest Catholic archdiocese in United States where I attended Mass and services at the parish of St. Finbar in Burbank.

Almost 5 million Catholics work, live, and worship in the Los Angeles community of 11 million people which prides itself on its embrace of multiculturalism.

Oddly enough, when I lived in So Cal, not one Ash Wednesday passed without someone pointing out that I had “something” on my forehead.

The first time it occurred, I was in a Target. The person was kind and concerned as she approached and expressed her concern.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said. “You have something on your forehead.”
“It’s Ashes,” I replied, believing she would then know what I was talking about. She didn’t. “It’s Ash Wednesday,” I continued. Still nothing. “I’m Catholic,” I added. “We put Ashes on our forehead to mark the beginning of the season called Lent.”
“Wow, that’s cool,” she smiled, then walked off.

I have to admit; though I chuckled, I was equally amazed that she didn’t know. The following year, it occurred again.

My wife and I went to have sushi after receiving ashes to meet our holy obligation of eating fish. (And yes, I’m aware that sushi is not the true intended act of penance imposed by the Church to commemorate the day.)

As we we’re leaving the restaurant, the Japanese-accented Sushi Chef called out to us.

“Thank you for coming,” he said. “Have good day.”
“You too!” my wife and I added in unison.
“Excuse me, you have something on you –,” he added, pointing to his forehead.
“Yes, thank you,” I replied. “It’s ashes. It’s Ash Wednesday.”
“Oh my goodness,” he humbly replied seemingly losing his accent. “I’m a lapsed Catholic.”

We chuckled. First at the loss of the shame-filled Sushi’s Chef’s Japanese accent; but also at the fact that it happened again!

I was equally amazed that he didn’t know.

IMG_1351The most noted case of mistaken ashes came when British Sky News reporters, on Ash Wednesday, thought the dirty mark above the brow of then Vice-President Joe Biden was also just something on his forehead.

It’s quite humorous. The reporter, another self-proclaimed lapsed Catholic, finally realizes three minutes and 10 seconds into the broadcast that Joe Biden’s something is, in fact, ashes, and humbly apologizes.

Take a look at it HERE.

In her defense, and the defense of the others, our ashes often lose their intended shape, that of a cross — especially by the end of the day.  (See below)

Though I no longer live in Los Angeles, I, oddly enough, miss those awkward Ash Wednesday incidents.

I don’t miss them because they made me laugh — even though they did.  I miss them because they revealed, to me, the true nature of the season of Lent that lives in the heart of those of goodwill.

Lent is a season of Penance, yes; but it’s also a season of Reflection.

But what exactly should we reflect on?

Well, how about we reflect on being more Holy, more Christ-like; we can do this by reflecting His loving character more.

In fact, I’d argue that the motivation behind these well-intended interactions were, for the most part, just as Christian as the act of receiving and wearing ashes.

How so?

Then let me start with this question: If Jesus was walking down the street and he saw a smudge on someone’s forehead, what would He do? What would He say?

I think that Jesus would stop, point, and say, “Excuse me, sir. You have something on your forehead.”

So, if today, if you are stopped by a well-intended non-believer or non Church-goer, simply smile and say, “No, that’s not dirt on my forehead. It’s Ashes … but thank you!”

Maybe, you could even take this opportunity to start a conversation — and possibly take the first step in introducing someone else to the Love of Christ.

IMG_1353James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

Lent Fun Fact:
The Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Friday was the reason for the creation of McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich.

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Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Catholics may be onto something.   In fact, they’ve been “onto something” for almost two millennia!

I just can’t believe nobody trademarked this idea yet!

During Lent, most Christians feel called to give up “something”.

In my Catholic Christian family, we were also required to fast, for lack of a better term, for the whole period of Lent.

Everyone knows about Catholic’s Fish Fridays.  My mom just took it a bit further.

She instilled in us that, “If Jesus could give up food and water for 40 days and nights, the least we could do is gives up snacks between meals and desserts.”

Did I mention my mom is Irish Catholic. If you’re Irish Catholic, you know what that means.

So, every Lent we would eat smaller portions, cut out snacks and go without desserts.  I still continue this tradition to this day.

Though now I break fast on Sundays, we carried out this fast, in my childhood home, all the way to Easter Sunday.

As I matured in Faith, I fasted — as in no food — during Holy Week, cleansing my body with Detox Tea until the morning of the Great Sabbath, Holy Saturday aka Easter Eve.

Every year, I lost weight and felt like a million bucks!

Originally, I ended my holy fast on Easter Sunday.  However, here’s why I stopped.

Polish people celebrate Easter with Kielbasa and an cornucopia-kowski of Polish treats: hard-boiled eggs, butter, ham, horseradish, bread, babka and other foods.

Maria Sliwinska, ICIMSS, Poland

Photo: Maria Sliwinska, ICIMSS, Poland

After a week of cleansing my body, a slice of low-end, high-nitrate brand of smoked kielbasa nearly killed me.  My detoxed body went into revolt and I felt like I was going into toxic shock.  The only thing running through my mind as my body struggled to maintain homeostasis was, “They’re going to find me dead on the sofa and they’re going to think it was the fast.”

So, as a precaution, I now start toxifying the day before Easter, so I could feast on the holiest day of the year.

Now that I’m a parent myself, I instill the same sense of sacrifice in my children.  It’s easy to do — with a little help from the Easter Bunny.  I give a few tips here.  One alteration I made from mom is that my kids substitute a healthy snack for the usually after-dinner dessert.  Besides that, its pretty much the same regiment!

Do this for a whole year — and there you have it:  The Lent Diet()

Cut calories, eliminate snacking, and no desserts every day — except on Sundays!

The good thing is that you don’t have to be Catholic to feel good; just eat like one — during Lent and beyond!

As far as the trademark,  I’m working on it.

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘Twas, and the new book series Hail Mary. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

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ash-wednesday-corporation-you

Ash Wednesday – Corporation YOU © 2017

Today is Ash Wednesday.

For six years, I lived and worked in Southern California, within the bounds of the largest Catholic archdiocese in United States where I attended Mass and services at the parish of St. Finbar in Burbank.

Almost 5 million Catholics work, live, and worship in the Los Angeles community of 11 million people which prides itself on its embrace of multiculturalism.

Oddly enough, when I lived in So Cal, not one Ash Wednesday passed without someone pointing out that I had “something” on my forehead.

The first time it occurred, I was in a Target. The person was kind and concerned as she approached and expressed her concern.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said. “You have something on your forehead.”
“It’s Ashes,” I replied, believing she would then know what I was talking about. She didn’t. “It’s Ash Wednesday,” I continued. Still nothing. “I’m Catholic,” I added. “We put Ashes on our forehead to mark the beginning of the season called Lent.”
“Wow, that’s cool,” she smiled, then walked off.

I have to admit; though I chuckled, I was equally amazed that she didn’t know. The following year, it occurred again.

My wife and I went to have sushi after receiving ashes to meet our holy obligation of eating fish. (And yes, I’m aware that sushi is not the true intended act of penance imposed by the Church to commemorate the day.)

As we we’re leaving the restaurant, the Japanese-accented Sushi Chef called out to us.

“Thank you for coming,” he said. “Have good day.”
“You too!” my wife and I added in unison.
“Excuse me, you have something on you –,” he added, pointing to his forehead.
“Yes, thank you,” I replied. “It’s ashes. It’s Ash Wednesday.”
“Oh my goodness,” he humbly replied seemingly losing his accent. “I’m a lapsed Catholic.”

We chuckled. First at the loss of the shame-filled Sushi’s Chef’s Japanese accent; but also at the fact that it happened again!

I was equally amazed that he didn’t know.

The most noted case of mistaken ashes came when British Sky News reporters, on Ash Wednesday, thought the dirty mark above the brow of then Vice-President Joe Biden was also just something on his forehead.

It’s quite humorous. The reporter, another self-proclaimed lapsed Catholic, finally realizes three minutes and 10 seconds into the broadcast that Joe Biden’s something is, in fact, ashes, and humbly apologizes.

Take a look at it HERE.

In her defense, and the defense of the others, our ashes often lose their intended shape, that of a cross — especially by the end of the day.  (See below)

Catholic Guide to Ashes

Though I no longer live in Los Angeles, I, oddly enough, miss those awkward Ash Wednesday incidents.

I don’t miss them because they made me laugh — even though they did.  I miss them because they revealed, to me, the true nature of the season of Lent that lives in the heart of those of goodwill.

Lent is a season of Penance, yes; but it’s also a season of Reflection.

But what exactly should we reflect on?

Well, how about we reflect on being more Holy, more Christ-like; we can do this by reflecting His loving character more.

In fact, I’d argue that the motivation behind these well-intended interactions were, for the most part, just as Christian as the act of receiving and wearing ashes.

How so?

Then let me start with this question: If Jesus was walking down the street and he saw a smudge on someone’s forehead, what would He do? What would He say?

I think that Jesus would stop, point, and say, “Excuse me, sir. You have something on your forehead.”

So, if today, if you are stopped by a well-intended non-believer or non Church-goer, simply smile and say, “No, that’s not dirt on my forehead. It’s Ashes … but thank you!”

Maybe, you could even take this opportunity to start a conversation — and possibly take the first step in introducing someone else to the Love of Christ.

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

 

Lent Fun Fact:
The Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Friday was the reason for the creation of McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich.

 

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Easter - Corporation YOU © 2017

Easter – Corporation YOU © 2017

Early Christians had allot of symbols.

The dove. The fish. The Lamb. The pelican. The peacock … and of course, the Easter Bunny.

It is without question that nearly all Christian symbols are adaptations of pre-Christian symbols, Dr. Ralph F. Wilson writes. With that said, there is a certain sort of believer that expresses concern over anything “pagan” in Christian symbols.

I understand the concern. But think about this: Is there no greater symbol of the godless cruelty of paganism than the cross?

I once heard a pastor rail against the Easter Bunny for similar reasons. It’s the Easter Bunny, I thought, not Santa Muerte for chrissake!

His argument was that there’s not reasonable application for this family-friendly egg-laying hare.  But I disagree!

God meets you were you are.

He also meets people in ways that you can understand and appreciate. So, why wouldn’t He meet the children of the world where they are and in ways they understand and appreciate — like the Easter Bunny?

Be it Peter Rabbit, Peter Cottontail, or Benjamin Bunny, nothing is as cute and cuddly to a pre- and elementary schooler, as a bunny rabbit!

Easter Bunny - Corporation YOU © 2017

Easter Bunny – Corporation YOU © 2017

 

The key is to make a bridge from cute and cuddly to orthodoxy in Faith. This is how we did it in our Christian household.

Starting on Ash Wednesday, along with fasting between meal and eating fish on Friday, we also eliminate dessert. This sacrifice gives us the opportunity, as parents, to discuss how Jesus sacrificed His life for us.

Additionally, we can introduce the biblical story on how He started His ministry with a 40-day fast in the desert.

You’ll be amazed, as were we, by the questions your children begin to ask and the depth of their understanding.

However, giving up dessert and convincing your three-year-old to sacrifice his or her fruit snack is not an easy task. That’s where the Easter Bunny comes in!

“Jesus takes account of all you cheerfully give to Him (in this case gives up) and He will repay you tenfold,” I tell my children.

The 10-fold
comes on Easter Sunday, in the form of a massive Easter Egg hunt. And of course, who delivers all that candy for Christ?

The Easter Bunny, that’s who!

Put the “Easter” back in Easter Bunny and let God meet your children were they are and in ways that they can understand and appreciate — and they will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life!

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘Twas, and the new book series Hail Mary. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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