Ash Wednesday and Unfaithfulness

At today’s Mass, after hearing the Gospel, we all line up to do not what Jesus commands, but the opposite. Unlike Holy Thursday, when we act out the command of Christ as literally as we can, today we do just what Jesus says not to do. He tells us to wash our faces, and then we all scramble to have someone put dirt on our heads. It is a kind of ritualization of our failure to live the Gospel, a common confession that we have not done what the Lord commands, a plain and public admission of our unfaithfulness.

Please read the rest of Brother Charles’ thoughts on Ash Wednesday here.

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5 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday and Unfaithfulness

  1. Christy

    Interesting. I didn’t think of it that way.

    I did appreciate the homily I heard today though – if it’s going to make you miserable to be around, please don’t give it up for Lent. Add something instead!

    Totally validated what I’ve been doing for years.

  2. Jenelle

    It’s just my opinion and my thoughts on this….but I don’t see the ashes as saying “look at me I’m fasting” and more as saying “I’m admitting to everyone I need a time of penance because I am a sinner.” I agree that Jesus does not want us going around saying “I’m fasting” in a prideful and self-righteous way but there is something to be said about publicly admitting there is a need for penance.

    I also agree with the homilist that said don’t give up something and then be miserable about it. I’m trying to add something as well as take something away so that I will be nicer to be around

    1. Rae Post author

      I think that one of the best things about good religious rituals is that they have multiple layers of meaning. So wearing ashes can both have its historical meaning which we carry on from the Jews of a public recognition of one’s religious state, as well as have different personal meanings for those who participate in the ritual. And you are so right that “there is something to be said about publicly admitting there is a need for penance.”

  3. Genavee

    I’d never noticed anyone observe Ash Wednesday until I moved to the East Coast, and I confess that even then I didn’t understand it. What a beautiful ritual.

    I confess that I love the way Catholics observe the Easter season, and I wish that Mormons did more. Thanks for sharing.

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