OK, one secret and two conclusions from reflection.
#1 Secret – It may not be a secret to you, but Ash Wednesday, though one of the most well attended liturgies of the year, is not a Holy Day of Obligation within the Church.
#2 Conclusion – I need Lent. Though not a Holy Day of Obligation in the Church, our humanity knows thoroughly that we need Lent. An obligation comes from the heart. I need reform, I need cycles of penance. THANK YOU, CHURCH. No wonder the Church was overflowing at 6:30, 8:15 and noon. I trust the same will be true later.
#3 Conclusion – Ashes are poignant on a baby.
I don’t know the mom with a toddler and a newborn who were in the pew just behind me. When it was time to go up for ashes, as I was beginning to exit the pew, I noticed the two year old from the pew behind me flat on her back in the main aisle, not making much noise, yet, looking at her mom who was picking up the baby. I asked her mom if I could take her, mom said yes, I started to lean down to pick her up and the little girl’s eyes got extraordinarily wide. I said, “Maybe I’d do better with the baby.” She smiled, nodded and gave me the newborn and we went up to get our ashes. Babies get ashes, too. I love to see ashes on ALL of us. The reminder of our mortality is so much move vivid on a BABY. They are so far from death, yet we are reminded that even they are on the journey through this life to eternity. So, thanks to that mom for blessing me with the opportunity to present that little tiny one for ashes. (And also for the baby fix. She slept so nicely! And that soft baby fuzz….God knows what He’s doing!)
Lord, help us all to journey together through life closely connected to you. Help us to receive well with open hearts the particular graces of Lent.