The mark of the cross

Published 9:02 am Saturday, February 10, 2018

By John Warren


The parades and balls are going on but soon the Ashes will come.

Many people have wondered about these ashes, what it marks.

In earlier days, when someone was sorry or sorrowing about something they would tear their cloaks and put on ashes in mourning. Now tearing our clothes has gone out of style for us for centuries, it is just a little too costly to do so I guess. But the ashes have remained.

Ashes symbolize our shortcomings and our mortality. It reminds us of our mortality a sort of from ashes to ashes and dust to dust sort of thing.

Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting on the first day of Lent. Which is the day after Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. It is 46 days before Easter.

Ash Wednesday is not a Catholic “thing”.

It is a day of penitence observed by western Christianity.

I hope I am not letting the cat out of the bag but, I came across a forum for pastors where one pastor asked the question where do you get your ashes for Ash Wednesday. It was interesting to see that many pastors buy their ashes at a bookstore.

One admitted that he didn’t have ashes so he used toner from the church copy machine. I feel sorry for the folks in his church who two weeks later were walking around with black crosses on their heads.

Or the poor cleric who didn’t know that mixing water with ashes creates lye and he actually scared one of his parishioners with the shape of a cross on their forehead.

I actually let the palm branches from the previous year dry out then burn them to make the ashes. I use a mortar to crush them down. I sometimes use a drop of anointing oil to help the ashes hold together.

Next Wednesday we will be on the Lamar College Orange campus offering ashes and prayer. Look for Randall and I near the Student Center. Services for the public will be held in the beautiful Slade Chapel on Elm Street between 5th and 6th Streets at 5 p.m. so if you are also celebrating Valentine’s Day you can continue with your evening.