Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Time to Repent

I’m not a practicing Catholic, but I’m a believer. One practice I have continued on with is receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday. It’s the beginning of the Lent Season and an opportunity to make positive changes in my life. For those unfamiliar with Lent, for 40 days you give up something, make a sacrifice, whether it’s quit drinking pop, quit smoking, or not eating meat, etc. At this moment I haven’t given anything up yet. I quit smoking almost 2 years ago, I don’t drink pop and I’ve been eating healthy since the beginning of this year, so I think my focus should be on improvements.

Early this morning, I went to St. Peter’s Church in downtown Chicago. Since it was early, there wasn’t much of a line to receive ashes, so I approached a priest, smiled and knelt down. He dug his thumb into the ashes, pressing on and down my forehead while saying, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Then digging his thumb again into the ashes, he pressed and swipe across saying, "Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel." When I got to work and saw myself in the mirror, it looked like I got in a fight with an ashtray and lost. Ashes sprinkled my nose and cheeks with a high concentration on my forehead. I’m guessing the priest; 1) detected my sinful ways; 2) had a bet with another priest on how dark they could make the cross; or 3) knew I hadn’t given anything up yet for Lent.

Today, I shall start the Lenten season by not criticizing, especially the priest who felt the need to clean his thumb off on my forehead. I also hope to minimize my complaints and judgments of others.


  1. This was an interesting post. I want to laugh at your situation, but it's nice that you are trying to make a mends with your judgments.

    It's always hard because as a human race we are a judgmental bunch, even when we try to be understanding of other people's plights, stupidity and so on...

    However, they are just thoughts. And thoughts can never hurt you...

    Interesting post!
    Good luck with your Lenten give upness... (sorry, I don't know what it's called. :D)

  2. Hinny,

    You're right that it's human nature to judge other people, but it's something I can try to change. I'm not always going to accomplish it and there will be days where I will fail miserably, but I want to be conscious of it. I figured that's the least I can do since I'm close to perfect. LOL! Just kidding.

    Thanks for the well wishes.

  3. you can judge me, tot.

    *does handstand*

    seriously, though...nice post


  4. Hi Bea,
    Quite a humorous piece LOL!. At the service in my local church yesterday evening the old Irish Priest was surprisingly almost on the same page as your article. His homily theme was to stop complaining, judging people and have some humor. Also instead of giving up for Lent start taking up. He said we don’t know the crosses/problems other people are going through. Their problems would make our problems seem like nothing. He encouraged us to take up at least giving a little smile as you meet someone. Also saying or returning a hello can be so important to those with heavier crosses and may brighten their day. And gosh when it comes to being in church he said we need to bring in the humor. The practice of not talking to anyone in church and the serious faces of those who receive ashes or communion needs to be changed to a smile. This Priest is quite a refreshing character and has brought some fun into the church. Last Sunday he announced at the start that in addition to the service there was also going to be a baptism. He said since the time spent in church would be longer than usual leaving early would not be possible as the doors were being locked.LOL!

  5. cray, I’ve already been judging you. I’m your judge, jury and punisher. :D *does flip flop with whip*

    veejay, Thanks. Oops, I left out humor. The priest at the church my mom goes to has a sense of humor too. I need to start saying hello and smiling more, your priest is right about that. I can recall times when I wasn’t feeling all that great and a stranger smiled at me or said hello and it made me feel good. It sounds refreshing to hear about a priest adding humor and relating things to everyday life. Thanks for sharing your church experience.