My education is Catholic, but I was an atheist when I went there. My upbringing was secular Methodism, but that was abandoned when I was a boy. So after some serious studies of eastern religions, I became a Christian for the first time through the charismatic movement. This accounts for some of the Pentecostalism some of you have noticed.
Because of my love of literature, the Anglican church seemed a natural home for me liturgically. As a charismatic, you are supposed to remain in your own denomination. So intellectually I'm reformed Catholic, and in practice I'm charismatic and evangelical. It is also my nature to make sure my bases are covered :)
What this means is I'm not terribly well churched.
I'm very weak on the church calender, concerned as it is with annual cycles ... and as Augustine says, Jesus Christ is the straight path that takes us out of the cyclical religions and philosophies of the past.
Plus, it manages to conflate 33 years of activity into a single year, which makes the whole thing a little weird logically. You get:
then the Epiphany,
then the Transfiguration,
then you have Lent (which occurs in the Gospels BEFORE the transfiguration),
then Palm Sunday (wait a second, we just skipped Jesus' entire ministry — going straight from the wilderness to Jerusalem, including the transfiguration),
then Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost. Then the Assumption.
Then a bunch of saints' days until Advent again.
Still, there's some logic to it. It skips around temporally, but OK.
All this is to say, I sorta get Advent (though I don't like that much emphasis on Christmas, especially by non-Christians who are simply having a paganized winter festival), and I sorta get Lent. But what is Ash Wednesday?
I have no idea. I don't recall a particularly important Wednesday in the Gospels 40 days before Easter. Clearly, the Lenten season represents Jesus' 40 days fast in the wilderness. But Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan before that happened. I don't recall anything about ashes. The Holy Spirit came upon Him.
Feel free to clue me in.