Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Witnessing through Ashes
I have been working in the city now for several Ash Wednesdays. Wearing ashes in a high traffic (people) area, makes for much conversation…. And abuse. It is since I have come into the city to work that I have felt that most people either don’t know what the black mark on my face is, or think that I am a hypocrite. They presume that I was drinking and living out a sinful life during the Carnival and then going for Ashes to make others think that I am a saint. (just for the record I am not a Saint)
Many people I know receive ashes and then wipe it off, as soon as they get to work. Their eternal soul is not in jeopardy by doing so. The ashes, traditionally made by burning palm leaves from the previous years Palm Sunday, are sacramental – a sacred sign or liturgical action to enhance prayer and to serve as a reminder of God’s Holy presence. They do not have to be created or administered by clergy (however a priest must bless them for the rite of distribution of ashes)
For my part, I choose to wear the ashes for the day. I do so now, because I want people to ask me. I want to tell them that Jesus died for us, and that as wonderful as we think we are, we are but dust, and to dust we ALL shall return. I ask them to make an effort to do something good, not just today, but for all of lent.
Although Anglicans receive ashes as well, the majority of people that you see with ashes would be Catholic. I wear the ashes for the day as a sign to the shy Catholics that they should be proud of their Catholic faith and their witnessing for Christ. In a world where Catholic ideas and beliefs are being attacked more regularly, it is a sign for hope.
and praise God for Hope!