Busted Halo
googling god
The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Our readers asked:

I get the idea of ashes on Ash Wednesday and in scripture but what’s the sackcloth all about?

Joe Paprocki Answers:

While many Christians wear ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, few, if any, don sackcloth! And yet, the two are often mentioned in the same breath in Scripture (1Mac 3:47; Esther 4:3-4; Is 58:5; Jer 6:26; Dan 9:3; Jon 3:6; Mt 11:21, to name a few). Today, we tend to picture someone wearing sackcloth as someone wearing a burlap bag with holes for the head and arms. In biblical times, however, sackcloth was made from the coarse hair of a black goat. Because it produced some degree of pain or discomfort, it was worn by one who was mourning or as a public sign of repentance, atonement, or submission. Because of this, sackcloth was sometimes worn by the Prophets as an outward sign of their call to repentance.

The purpose of wearing sackcloth is easily seen. While wearing colorful and luxurious clothing was a sign of joy and celebration, wearing sackcloth was a sign of demonstrating grief, humility, and, or, sadness. This outward sign was a way of expressing true and intense remorse for one’s sins. It was intended to express one’s sincere desire to turn one’s heart away from sin and to follow God faithfully. It was a physical “act of contrition.” Although we no longer wear sackcloth as part of our Lenten practice, we are still called to practice true contrition: recognizing the discomfort that our sins are causing, grieving for the damage our sins have caused, and expressing a sincere desire to repent of those sins and to follow God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.

 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
The Author : Joe Paprocki
Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).
See more articles by (67).
Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
powered by the Paulists