Today marks the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday. If you saw people walking around today with a random black smudge on the center of their forehead, no, it is not suddenly en vogue to traipse around with dirt smeared on one's forehead. I remember being rather embarrassed as a child with the mark on my forehead. Or rather I was somewhat afraid of people's reactions. They usually range from a sympathetic grin upon sighting (usually indicating to me a sense of camaraderie in the act) to a quizzical look and a question akin to what a friend experienced this morning exiting her residence in Rome -- "Lei e un po sporco qua" (There is a little smudge there.) Oops, must have missed a spot when I was bathing this morning.
In all seriousness, though, the dusty cross is a reminder to us of the fleetingness of life. It calls to mind the fact that in this present world we will soon be no more than like the dirt we encounter today. It helps us to recall, too, that there is something beyond this world. The cross is a sign of hope. It reminds us of what we truly live for -- the promise of heaven made possible through Christ's death on the Cross.
During the Lenten season, it is good to forgo some of life's pleasures in order to atone for our sins, grow in virtue, and remember the suffering Christ underwent for our sins. One of the means of mortification practiced during Lent is abstinence from meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. Fish dishes become frequent while rich meat dishes dwindle. (Makes one anticipate Easter Sunday with even more fervor! ;-))
Staple 'abstinence meals' in our household include tuna casserole, bean burritos, cheese raviolis with tomato sauce, macaroni and cheese, fish sticks and fries, and scrambled eggs with toast.
This year I would like to discover and try some new fish and vegetarian meals. First on my list is fish tacos. Stay tuned for the results...
What are your favorite Lenten dishes?