For various reasons, I was present for 3 of the 5 opportunities for ashes here at the parish yesterday (Ash Wednesday). First, 8:30 Mass. I was Mommy Helper in Preschool and we took the kids over at the end of Mass to receive ashes (I was told there was "no room" for the Pre-K in Church yesterday to go to Mass. Bunch of crap. The whole class, plus the teacher and me would have taken up one pew.). The Church was very full. Probably like 600 people, but the kids from the parish school were there too, comprising 425 or so of the attendees. Side note: I went home after Primo's school and Bubba looks at me and goes: "What you GOT?!"
3:30, Dispensation of Ashes. No Mass. At least 600 people.
7:00 p.m. Mass. The church was packed, 700 people. Well, it was at least packed at the beginning. See, our celebrant distributed ashes in the middle of Mass, after his homily, and at least 200 people left after recieving ashes.
This leads me to wonder, what is it that people even go to get Ashes if they are not going to Mass on Sunday? Now, anyone who reads this page will know that I am very happy when people come into Church at all. It's always an opportunity for conversion, especially when they aren't here that often. But what is it about those ashes? What is it that makes people who don't normally step a foot into a Church except on Christmas and Easter head out to church in the middle of the week "get ashes?"
I also have to wonder why people will come to Mass to "get ashes" and then leave before the really big deal (the Eucharist)? "Hmmm.....dirt on my head, or the body and blood of Christ? Dirt or Jesus....Jesus or dirt.....I'll just stay for the dirt. If I stay for the Jesus, I'll miss American Idol." I know most Catholics are very poorly catechized, but even ones who know better are leaving Mass early, before the Main Event. I also wonder what possesed the priests to decide that distributing the ashes in the middle of Mass was a good idea. Our guys usually do it after the final blessing. Trying to avoid people receiving the Blessed Sacrament unworthily?
I just wonder...