"Zeal for your house will consume me" (Ps 69:9)

Thoughts of a parish priest…

Drive thru Ashes?? Come on, really??

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Okay, I understand that lives are busy. I am sure that many will think this is a nice idea. I understand that those offering this service have good intentions, and I don’t offer this post as a condemnation of those involved, but here are some random thoughts on this article I read earlier this week:

http://www.wcvb.com/news/tiverton-churches-to-offer-driveby-ash-distribution-on-ash-wednesday/24772082

Clearly, Protestants and Catholics differ in the way in which we practice our faith, and we need to respect that, but in my own opinion, doesn’t this sort of thing cheapen the whole concept of penance and sacrifice that Lent calls us to?

As we begin this holy and penitential season, we mark our foreheads with ashes and hear the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” (or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”). Ash Wednesday isn’t just the beginning of a liturgical season, it is the call to radical conversion, it is the call to turn away from sin, and it is the call to recognize our total dependence upon Jesus Christ!

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When I hear of a service offered to people in which they can receive ashes (and coffee) without even making the effort to get out of their car, aren’t we saying that this penitential action isn’t worth putting your car in park? Aren’t we in a sense enabling laziness and a causal attitude toward our spiritual lives?

I guess the point I am trying to make is that what does it really accomplish to mark ourselves with ashes (whether in a drive thru service or in a church) if it is just about a symbol of dirt on our foreheads? Are we doing something just for others to see it, or are we doing it to remind ourselves of something?

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Lent is more than that! Our faith is more than that, isn’t it? As we begin Lent tomorrow, let us approach this season with determination to grow closer to our Lord. Let us begin this season with the clear intention of striving to live lives free of sin and all that distracts us from our Lord. We can’t be casual or lazy about our faith and expect to experience that closeness to our Lord that we all truly desire!

Parishes will be offering ashes at numerous Masses throughout the day! Our Lord is worth the effort! Our spiritual lives are worth more than a drive thru! Let’s do this right!

 

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