Lenten Reflections: Ash Wednesday: It’s all one Admonition

Readability

Lenten Reflections: Ash Wednesday: It's all one Admonition

The Curator/​4th Doc­tor: You were curi­ous about this paint­ing, I think. I acquired it in remark­able cir­cum­stances. What do you make of the title?
11th Doc­tor: Which title? There’s two: “No More” or “Gal­lifrey Falls”.
The Curator/​4th Doc­tor: Oh, you see, that’s where everybody’s wrong. It’s all one title: “Gal­lifrey Falls No More”. Now, what would you think that means, eh?

Day of the Doc­tor 2013

One of the things many vari­a­tions I’ve seen in the liturgy since my youth has been a change in the admo­ni­tion said by priests when you go up for ashes on Ash Wednesday.

When I was young it was only: “Remem­ber man that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.”

Some­time in my teens or twen­ties I started hear­ing: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” instead. These days I’ve been hear­ing the first one more often again. As a gen­eral rule the more lib­eral the church the more likely you’ll hear the “repent” line as they like to avoid any­thing remind­ing peo­ple of death and judge­ment and in the more con­ser­v­a­tive churches you tend to hear the “dust” busi­ness because they are more likely to stick with the liturgy as it was although I’ve actu­ally seen ser­vices where there are two lines one using the 1st greet­ing and one the 2nd.

As you might guess being more of a tra­di­tion­al­ist I pre­fer the 1st but when you think about what Lent is all about I think rather than hav­ing the greet­ing com­pete one might con­sider hav­ing it as just a sin­gle admo­ni­tion. “Remem­ber man that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return, SO repent and believe in the Gospel.”

The entire point of the 1st admo­ni­tion is to remind us of our mor­tal­ity thus giv­ing us the need to repent and believe in the Gospel to receive life eter­nal. Mean­while the entire rea­son why the 2nd admo­ni­tion is needed is because we are dust and to dust we shall return. These two admo­ni­tions aren’t in com­pe­ti­tion, rather they are complementary.

So rather than quib­ble as to which admo­ni­tion is the one we want to hear, let’s take them as a sin­gle admo­ni­tion. Let’s remem­ber this Lenten sea­son that we are dust and to dust we shall return in order to prompt us to repent and believe in the Gospel.

After all that’s the rea­son for the season.

.

The Curator/4th Doctor: You were curious about this painting, I think. I acquired it in remarkable circumstances. What do you make of the title? 
11th Doctor: Which title? There’s two: “No More” or “Gallifrey Falls”
The Curator/4th Doctor: Oh, you see, that’s where everybody’s wrong. It’s all one title: “Gallifrey Falls No More”. Now, what would you think that means, eh? 

Day of the Doctor 2013

One of the things many variations I’ve seen in the liturgy since my youth has been a change in the admonition said by priests when you go up for ashes on Ash Wednesday.

When I was young it was only: “Remember man that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.”

Sometime in my teens or twenties I started hearing: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” instead. These days I’ve been hearing the first one more often again. As a general rule the more liberal the church the more likely you’ll hear the “repent” line as they like to avoid anything reminding people of death and judgement and in the more conservative churches you tend to hear the “dust” business because they are more likely to stick with the liturgy as it was although I’ve actually seen services where there are two lines one using the 1st greeting and one the 2nd.

As you might guess being more of a traditionalist I prefer the 1st but when you think about what Lent is all about I think rather than having the greeting compete one might consider having it as just a single admonition. “Remember man that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return, SO repent and believe in the Gospel.”

The entire point of the 1st admonition is to remind us of our mortality thus giving us the need to repent and believe in the Gospel to receive life eternal. Meanwhile the entire reason why the 2nd admonition is needed is because we are dust and to dust we shall return. These two admonitions aren’t in competition, rather they are complementary.

So rather than quibble as to which admonition is the one we want to hear, let’s take them as a single admonition. Let’s remember this Lenten season that we are dust and to dust we shall return in order to prompt us to repent and believe in the Gospel.

After all that’s the reason for the season.

.