Each year, on the fourth Thursday of November, Americans gather with their people around the nation for feasts of thanksgiving. They break bread with their loved ones, and take time to express gratitude for the blessings of the year. For many Americans, the day is one of only a handful in the year when they can be reunited with their families.
In the Book of Revelation, St. John writes,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2)
If you are Catholic, then you are probably accustomed to the practice of going to Mass and getting ashes put on your forehead on Ash Wednesday. But why ashes? What do they mean?
The next time you go to church, bring a compass with you. Chances are you will find that the church is built facing the east. This is no coincidence. Though it has not been possible on every occasion, many Catholic churches have been built to face the east.