Ash Wednesday: A Big, Red Stop Sign


By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

I made an appointment at a Moline office at 8:30 on  Wednesday, February 11. Uh-oh.

When I realized it was Ash Wednesday and we would not be finished with Eucharist and the distribution of ashes until about 9:00, I knew I had to change the appointment. It was going to be tough because this office frowned upon appointment changes.

Mustering up my courage, I called, saying I had made an error and could not get to their office until 9:30. I explained why in a weak voice. It’s the beginning of Lent.

To my surprise the secretary said, “Oh, I also noticed it was Ash Wednesday next week; in fact I thought at first that today was Ash Wednesday!”

Why is it that the world knows about Ash Wednesday without a thousand ads in the newspaper to remind us?

Why is it that – without commercials urging us to do so – so many walk around with smudges of black ashes on their foreheads?

The ashes remind us that we are dust, and will return to dust. They remind us to repent. They remind us to look into our hearts and accept the reality that one day we will die and see God face to face.

Ash Wednesday is like a BIG RED STOP SIGN, urging us to love God and God’s creation, to turn from our selfish tendencies, to see and help those in need.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s