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On Ash Wednesday, to be honest, I usually wipe off the ashes if I'm going out into public.  Perhaps it is some of my old protestantism coming out or something.  I heard on the radio today Neal Boortz refer to wearing ashes on the head as a form of "moral exibitionism" (but then again, he was refering to Joe Biden). 

But other people wear them all day.

For the ten years I've been Catholic, I always figured people were kind of being showy or something.  "Look at me.  I'm wearing ashes!  I'm a Catholic!"  And also, there's always a homily given during Ash Wednesday in which it is discussed that people should not be showy in their prayers and fasts.  So, it only made sense to me to wipe off my ashes. 

But then, I found this interesting passage from the ninth chapter of Ezekiel, and I think I could be wrong about how I handle Ash Wednesday.  Any thoughts, folks?


1 Then he cried loud for me to hear: Come, you scourges of the city!
2 With that I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate which faces the north, each with a destroying weapon in his hand. In their midst was a man dressed in linen, with a writer's case at his waist. They entered and stood beside the bronze altar.
3 Then he called to the man dressed in linen with the writer's case at his waist,
4 1 saying to him: Pass through the city (through Jerusalem) and mark an X on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations that are practiced within it.
5 To the others I heard him say: Pass through the city after him and strike! Do not look on them with pity nor show any mercy!
6 Old men, youths and maidens, women and children--wipe them out! But do not touch any marked with the X; begin at my sanctuary. So they began with the men (the elders) who were in front of the temple.
7 Defile the temple, he said to them, and fill the courts with the slain; then go out and strike in the city.
8 As they began to strike, I was left alone. I fell prone, crying out, Alas, Lord GOD! Will you destroy all that is left of Israel when you pour out your fury on Jerusalem?"
9 He answered me: The sins of the house of Israel are great beyond measure; the land is filled with bloodshed, the city with lawlessness. They think that the LORD has forsaken the land, that he does not see them.
10 I, however, will not look upon them with pity, nor show any mercy. I will bring down their conduct upon their heads.
11 Then I saw the man dressed in linen with the writing case at his waist make his report: "I have done as you ordered."

i've never wiped them off, but i hate the ashes mixed with grease that our priest started using some years back.  everybody looks like magic marker was used to draw a huge cross on their forehead.  one Ash Wednesday i saw rudy giuliani on tv with that kind of huge greasy cross on his forehead.

i think just plain ashes are the way to go.  the greasy cross is way too obvious.
I think it's an incredible witness to the Faith.  On this day, you find all of these random people with this odd little mark on their heads.  It shows a strength in the Church and perhaps makes others curious.  It may also remind nominal or lazy Catholics that it is indeed Ash Wednesday and Lent is starting.

I suppose if one felt pride when walking around with it they should perhaps wipe it off, but otherwise it is there for a reason.  It's an outer sign, more for ourselves than anything, that we are entering into the desert, we are sinful, and we shall die.
The Mass I attended was at 7pm so by the time I got home and had a shower they'd only been on for a few hours. But if I had gone to a morning Mass I'd have worn them all day. Hopefully someone would have asked about it and I could tell them about the Faith.
Wearing ashes in public is a witness for God. It's not about us. The Ashes, while they do remind us about the Church and body of Christ, are meant to remind everyone about their last end, which is death. It is a reminder to the world that God exists and everyone dies. I always saw it as an opportunity  to get the pagans and the sinners of the world to think about God, even for a moment, when they saw the ashes on the forehead.
Well, you know, you might just be a showy Episcopalian.
(02-17-2010, 10:29 PM)Satori Wrote: [ -> ]Well, you know, you might just be a showy Episcopalian.

at least one Baptist church here was giving ashes about 17-18 years ago.  the people were going to kneel down to receive the ashes, too.  but they were doing it at night so nobody would think they were Catholics!    :laughing:

no, really, Baptists always go to church on Wednesday night so naturally they'd do the ashes at night.  noon services are foreign to them during the week.

i don't know if they kept doing it after that one year. 


I once met an older lady who kept them on all through Lent - seriously.  You could see how she had done her makeup around the spot on her forehead.
(02-17-2010, 10:29 PM)Satori Wrote: [ -> ]Well, you know, you might just be a showy Episcopalian.

That's redundancy if I ever read it.
The nuns I had in grade school told us to leave them on until they came off through washing our face at night or naturally came off.  We are supposed to bear public witness to our faith, and the ashes actually show we are marked as sinners so it's not supposed to be prideful.

I always get, "Hey you got dirt on your face!" from my non-Catholic friends. It gets old after the 5000th time.  Sigh.
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