Why We Love Our Ashes

Anyone who has worked in a Catholic parish knows what to expect on and around Ash Wednesday: telephone calls at all hours, strangers randomly showing up for ashes, folks leaving after receiving their ashes, but before receiving the Eucharist.

Among the “regulars,” there’s a lot of eye-rolling and headshaking, and an overwhelming desire to figure out why, on this day, getting ashes is the single-minded compulsion of every Catholic on the planet.

Lent: Entering into Silence

"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, Return to the Lord, your God" Joel 2:12, 13.

Lent is not an intellectual exercise, but an affair of the heart. Ash Wednesday comes around each year. We get ashes. We remember prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We say we’ll do better at something, or not do something else at all.

Whatever sin or addiction has plagued us since the turn of the year, the one we have not yet managed to get rid of despite our New Year’s resolution to somehow dislodge it at the roots, Lent presents us with another chance. But how?