Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why I Love Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was a busy day.  I was scheduled to conduct an Ash Wednesday Service at a local hospital as well as distributing ashes before and during the evening Mass.  After the day I really began to reflect on why I love Ash Wednesday, since one would suppose that the opposite would be true. 

Why, because it is the beginning of:
  •  A time of prayer, fasting and alms giving; 
  • A time of sacrifice.
 Why the joy?  Well let me count the ways:

  1. It is not a Holy Day of Obligation, so people come because they are called, by their own hearts, to do so;
  2. The Hospital Chapel was packed and when I was on the floor distributing ashes to patients, I was stopped in the hallway by staff and visitors requesting the mark of the season;
  3. At the church, there was a steady stream, all day, of people coming to receive ashes;
  4. When we stopped to prepare for Mass, the people kept coming and were disappointed that we were not continuing; the crowd grew so large that one of our priest (not celebrating the Mass) stepped up to continue the distribution;
  5. We had over 2,000 nails and pieces of sack cloth for people to take home and carry with them, every day, during the season of Lent and we had to go get more;
  6. At Mass, the crowd grew and grew and grew to the point that we had to divide portions of the Body of Christ so that everyone could receive;
  7. After Mass, the Commons area was packed with people because of the following Spanish Mass to the point where it was difficult to get to the Sacristy;
  8. And most importantly, the look in everyone's eyes, including the little ones,  after receiving this mark; a connection was made, it meant something to them.
That is why I love Ash Wednesday.  

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