Today is Ash Wednesday. It’s one of those movable dates, as is Easter and Palm Sunday. To calculate Ash Wednesday, first you need to figure out Easter, then work backwards.
It helps to know that Easter, on the Gregorian Calendar, always falls between March 22 and April 25. Easter is the first Sunday of the Paschal Full Moon. This is the first full moon of the Spring Equinox of March 21. This year, the first full moon after March 21 is April 6. This is a Thursday. So the first Sunday following April 6 is April 9, Easter Sunday in the Western World.
Working backwards, there are six weeks of Lent. The first Sunday in the Lenten Season is February 26. Now count backward to the Wednesday before, or February 22. That’s a whole lot of math, and you need to know the lunar cycle too. Or have a calendar that gives you that all important information.
While not a Holy Day of Obligation to attend Mass; Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence. It is one of the most holy days for Christians, as it marks the start of the Lenten Season, a call to repent and prepare for Easter. Ash Wednesday is a reminder that we are but ashes, and one day our physical existence will return to ashes. Life is but a journey home, to be in the Kingdom of God, with our Lord and Savior. Sometimes that journey is a struggle. Sometimes it seems random or unfair. It is what we make of it. Possessions might appear to make the journey easier, but that’s not always the case. Suffering can be celebrated. I know it sounds like a crazy, twisted notion. If God loves me, He would make me happy, give me what I need when I need it, right? He does. It’s just that what we need might not be what we think we need. Sometimes letting go and trusting in the Lord’s wisdom is hard. It takes faith. And faith is something that demands practice in order to be strong. Again, easier said than done.
Each day from now until Easter, I’ve decided to share a little splash of faith, be it in the form of a prayer; part of our Daily Readings or from the Responsorial Psalms of the day. If it brings you comfort or inspiration, praise be!
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned
Today is also California Day and National Margarita Day. Unfortunately for us, we’ll be fasting. Fortunately for you, I’ve already made what would have been an amazing Soup to celebrate the Golden State of California. Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken Taco Soup
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
2 teaspoons Salt, divided
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel Tomatoes
1 (10 oz) can condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 (4 oz) can chopped Green Chiles
1 tablespoon Jalapeno Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Taco Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 large boneless Chicken Breast
1/2 (4 oz) package Cream Cheese, softened
Tortillas Strips for garnish
Pickled Jalapeno Pepper Slices, optional garnish
Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray.
Peel and dice onion, set aside. Core, seed and dice bell pepper. Add onions, bell pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt to the slow cooker. Stir in chicken stock, diced tomatoes, condensed soup, and green chiles. Set aside.
Cut chicken breast into small, bite-size pieces Place chicken in a bowl. Add oil, taco seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, and black pepper. Toss chicken to coat completely. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Cook on HIGH until chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about an hour Continue to cook on LOW for another hour as flavors develop and deepen.
Let cream cheese soften while the soup simmers. Dice cream cheese into small pieces. Stir into the soup. Let simmer another 30 minutes to melt cream cheese into the broth.
Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with tortilla strips, top with a few slices of jalapeno if desired. Serve and enjoy.