This was the first year Matthew realized about ashes and came back to sit in our pew and said, why do I have dirt on my face? Well, in an effort to explain it to him, I told him it was because we are not always good boys and girls and it is to remind us of that and that we need to be good.
For those of you who think we are all weird freaks running around with dirt on our heads and would like a more adult description here is a great quote from Fallible Blogma.
“Many people, including Catholics themselves, have no idea why we walk around on Ash Wednesday with dirty black smudges on our foreheads.
First, it’s not a smudge. It’s supposed to be a cross drawn with ash. However, some of the people administering the ashes are a little better artists than others. Either way, it gets the job done. The ashes represent our mortality and are an outward sign of our sinfulness.But why would anyone want to be reminded of this? Perhaps because it’s true. We are indeed mortal – we are dust, and to dust we shall return (Gen 3:19). We are sinful too. And in a world that constantly says “if it feels good, do it” and suggests that a guilty conscience is just one more thing we need a prescription for, we definitely need this healthy dose of reality.
There is something much more important that must go along with this, though. It always helps to put everything we do in the Church in context with the most important event – the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter.
In this case, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which is preparation for Easter. And real preparation for Easter isn’t done with travel plans, fervor over the Sunday afternoon meal, and a resolution to eat less chocolate. It’s done in your soul.
When we look in the mirror on Ash Wednesday and see that black smudgeon our forehead, we should be reminded that, no matter what, we are still sinners in need of constant conversion. It is the Church calling us back once again to the graces of our baptism, to do penance, and amend our lives as we approach the greatest celebration in the Church – Easter.
So don’t wear your ashes proudly, but make sure you wear them…and wear them humbly
This year I am wearing my dark ashes proudly, to the grocery store, to the neighbors and anywhere else I go today, I am proud to be a Christian and proud to be a Catholic Convert.