Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Roman Catholics, and I attended Mass this morning (with my wife and children) for the first time in nearly a year. In fact, Ash Wednesday of 2020 might have been the last time I was at Mass, though probably there were a couple Sundays before the Church shut everything down.

It felt good to be back. Yes, it was quite different from usual. Social distancing and masks. No singing, collections, or hand shakes. Ashes were sprinkled on the top of the head instead of being signed on the forehead, and partaking of the Blood was right out the window.

But still: taking the Eucharist. Saying the Our Father. Professing our faith as a a community. And kneeling in prayer together, offering our heartfelt thanks as well as supplications for better days. 

I've missed that.

I don't know the next time I'll be back in Church...the Sunday services are limited and by registration only at this point, and my family is a bit lackadaisical about getting up on weekends (today's 9am service was "open" because it's in the middle of the, I had to take my kids to school this morning anyway). Yes, I realize that writing that is an indictment of just how poor my devotion is, but I'm willing to wear it.

[the process of building one's churchy habits is, after all, a lifelong one for those of us that choose this particular road. I have time to improve]

For now, I'm just very happy that I dragged my lazy ass down to the Mass. I needed that. And it was a good way to kick off the Lenten season. 

Just wanted to make a quick note of it. Peace and love to you all.


  1. Have a blessed Lent, JB!

    My favorite church service is actually Tenebrae on Good Friday at my favorite church, Minneapolis's Basilica of St. Mary.

    Father Bauer always invites Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman from Temple Israel to speak to the congregation. It is an especially important thing for both sides to keep this connection going, because of the egregious history of Christians (mostly us and Eastern Orthodox) slandering Jewish people and inciting murderous violence against them on Good Friday.

    After the rabbi receives her standing ovation and leaves, the church darkens with the one-by-one extinguishing of each candle from the black candelabrum called the "Hearse".

    The heavy cross is passed over the congregation's heads like it's stage-diving. The music is dissonant, but very moving. Finally, the church is pitch-black, and we wail and pound thunderously on the ancient wooden pews.

    A spotlight breaks the darkness and beams on where the heavy cross has come to rest before the altar.

    From high in the rafters of the dome, rose petals waft down through the shaft of light to land on the cross.

    My wife and I usually end up blubbering with everyone else, and shuffle out of the church at the end.

    I can't take my hyperkinetic child, but my wife and I took our friend once, who is a slack agnostic Goth who grew up Scandinavian whitebread Lutheran. She was impressed.

    1. Sounds like quite a show. What do they do for the Passion?

      Very cool to have a service featuring a rabbi. The Jesuits at my high school arranged to have rabbis visit us once or twice a year. Only wish we could have had an imam as well!

      I've known more than one midwestern Lutheran to be impressed with Catholicism (usually younger ones)...

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  3. God bless you and your family, JB!