Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

Elsewhere online, I encountered the assertion that we should wash off today's ashes before we appear in public. The reason given is that Jesus counseled us that when we fast, we shouldn't go around moping and otherwise showing off that we're oh-so-holy.

Yes, there's always the danger to our souls of pridefully glorying in our observance of the day. But the startling sight of ashes on our foreheads also show those around us that observant Catholics live among them, and that we humbly acknowledge that we're in need of repentance. In this secular age, I'd say that the good that can flow from this is worth risking what could, without diligence, be an occasion of sin. Since the Catholic faith is hardly a popular thing in American society, or perhaps I should say in the society in which most urban Catholics find themselves, it's more likely that we'd be derided for holding on to our superstitious beliefs, than praised for fasting and wearing sackcloth.

So I say: wear those ashes so the world can see them — and be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you.