This is the Christian season of Lent, a period of 40 days leading up to Easter.
As I grew up (long ago) as a Protestant (Presbyterian), I did not hear much about Lent, and Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent, was something only Catholics celebrated.
Yet today, most “mainline” Christian denominations (including Presbyterians) now celebrate Ash Wednesday with our Catholic sisters and brothers, including the imposition of ashes on the forehead.
It seems to me that Protestants are becoming more Catholic, while Catholics are likewise picking up traditions which once were decidedly Protestant, such as Bible study.
I attribute this to a couple things:
1) We live in a “post-Christian” society, where fewer and fewer Americans identify themselves as belonging to the Christian faith, so those that do identify themselves as Christians find they have more in common than what formerly divided them.
2) As Catholics and Protestants take their faith more seriously and intentionally now, due to the decline in the “civic religion” of Christianity, they are finding more commonality in the early Church Fathers and a shared early history.
While doctrinal and theological issues still remain, there is more in common between them than not.
Perhaps this is a positive sign for our country, which now seems deeply divided by our political parties.
As we look back to the principles which founded our nation, we might see we have more in common today than not.
I pray we may find this commonality soon, before we fight with each other, as Protestants and Catholics had in the past.