"Don’t rub off your ashes, urges bishop" via Anna Arco

By Anna Arco
The Catholic Herald
Thursday, 3 March 2011

People pray during an Ash Wednesday service at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York (CNS photo/Gregory Shemitz)

Catholics should try not to rub their ashes off after Ash Wednesday Mass, an English bishop has said.


Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, who heads the department of evangelisation and catechesis, urged Catholics across Britain to wear “the outward sign of our inward sorrow for our sins and for our commitment to Jesus as Our Lord and Saviour”.

He said: “The wearing of the ashes provides us with a wonderful opportunity to share with people how important our faith is to us and to point them to the cross of Christ. I invite you where possible to attend a morning or lunchtime Mass.

“Please try not to rub off your ashes as soon as you leave church, but take the sign of the cross to all those that you meet – in your school, office, factory, wherever you may be. This might just make people curious and wonder why you would do this. If you explain about Lent and Easter it might just make them think and may even awaken in them the questions that might lead to faith. Many people have a dim awareness of Lent and even ashes. It would be good to make this clear rather than dim.

“Don’t underestimate the power of this simple action and wear your ashes as not only a sign of the beginning of your Lenten journey, but also to witness to your greatest treasure in life. This small step could awaken faith in the hearts of many that you meet in a way that words could never do.”

Catholics receive ashes at Mass on Ash Wednesday where they are reminded of their own mortality when the priest says “From ashes to ashes”. The ashes are made from the fronds of palm used on palm Sunday of the previous year.

Anna Arco is chief feature writer for the Catholic Herald.


Sofia’s Note: Thanks to Anna for a piece that needed to be written. I have encouraged others for the last twenty years to go to early Mass on Ash Wednesday and to wear ashes all day as a sign of being Roman Catholic and loving it. Embracing our history and our rituals can serve as evangelical tools to others about our Faith!

Maybe in their wisdome the Bishops will bring back abstinence on all Fridays of the year…Another uniquely Catholic pious custom that even non-Catholics admire… Too bad some of our Progressive bishops and feminist nuns don’t feel the same.

Thank God for the young vocations to the priesthood and Religious Life. They are helping their older counterparts to understand how great it is to be Catholic!

One Comments to “"Don’t rub off your ashes, urges bishop" via Anna Arco”

  1. Actually, abstinence was never really gone – it’s been expanded. We are to abstain or do some other form of penance:

    Canon 1250 All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

    Canon 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Canon 1252 All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

    Can. 1253 It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

    also, see http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/lent/us-bishops-pastoral-statement-on-penance-and-abstinence.cfm

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