A week ago I attended my first Ash Wednesday mass in probably fifteen years.  It was a sobering service and the Gospel reading surely described some of the more important tenets behind embodied Christianity (besides the Beatitudes).  Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21:

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth that thine alms may be in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.  And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.  Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

I came away from the service a little more educated and much more sure about the solemnity and the seriousness of this time during the church year.  This is why I was amazed that when asked, my sister-in-law didn’t think that her Christian church celebrated Lent.  At the most, her pastor was giving up Mountain Dew for the forty days.  Apparently this is a sacrifice.  I was even more highly disturbed when she basically said, “Don’t just Catholics celebrate Lent?” Every Abrahamic religion celebrates periods of contemplation and fasting, but apparently the Apocalypse chasers do not follow along.  Why think?  Why fast?  Why reaffirm belief when you’ve already got your space locked in when the redeemer appears?

The heck with that, right?