Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ashes to Ashes...

Ash Wednesday snuck up on me this year. Like a panther, it was. Yessir, I was eating an ice cream sundae topped with sickly candied cherries at a hall social last night (in which I thoroughly trounced several people's asses at Wii Boxing), when someone said, "So, I guess this can be like a mini Mardi Gras party."

"Mar...Mardi Gras?" I ask.

"Yeah, you do know it's Mardi Gras today, right?"

"Well, I, yn...I"

Upon saying that, the sundae in my hand became my last desert for a while. I always give up ice cream for Lent (the 40 days before the Easter weekend, for those that don't know). This year, I'm going a little bit further and giving up all sweets and desserts (and, no, I don't consider fruit to be a dessert. I don't care what the official definition is. I had this huge debate with my roommate last year, but I think his main intention was to deprive me of good, healthy fruit. Never again!).

I would have tried to give up something else for 40 days and 40 nights like, say, using my computer, but I don't like to make promises I know for a fact that I'll break. Nay, for me, sweets are challenging but doable.

In any event, I went to church around 5:30 today. I read/heard somewhere that more Catholics attend Mass on Ash Wednesday than any other day of the year, including Christmas and Easter. I guess the idea of Catholic guilt rings most true on the day when you're supposed to call to mind your sins. Needless to say, when I went to Newman Hall (which desperately needs a redesign; the poured concrete look just doesn't work for me), the place was crowded.

There are a few things I look forward to at large gatherings like that. First, you see people you know, but didn't know were Catholic. It's essentially the religious equivalent of realizing someone you know has also took UGBA 10; it's common enough that it's not really surprising, but it's fun to find out anyway. As it turns out, one of my fellow bloggers was present there.

Second thing: seeing that the people you know are actually pretty good singers. There are plenty of hymns and songs in every service, no matter where you go. There's always two or three old lady's who have lost their sense of tone over the the years, and then there's me, but most people tend to sing quite nicely, especially in groups. I wonder how far a group of 10 or more would get on American Idol singing church hymns.

The third thing...well, those are the only two things I can think of. However, I'm quite glad that when they put ashes on my forehead (hence the name Ash Wednesday), the priest actually used his thumb. I love my old high school to death, but when they had Ash Wednesday services, they used a rubber stamp. A rubber stamp! I always felt like paperwork or something. To the stamp's credit, though, the ashes always came out looking like crosses. When you put human thumb into the equation, the ashen crosses can end up looking more like...ashen smudges. Trade off, I suppose.

Finally, I would probably mention how all I've eaten today is a Tuna Lunch-To-Go pack, a croissant, and a banana (no, don't look up that definition again!). In fact, I was planning on writing on and on about how it was so difficult to go without food (even though it wasn't that bad) and how great I am for actually going through with it. However, the following Bible quote was read during the service:

"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others."



Unknown said...

I dunno, I kind of dig the aesthetic at Newman, though I must admit it grew on me. I think the aesthetic works ever so slightly better under candle light.


Anonymous said...

kind of interesting to hear your take. I used to think nothing could sneak up on you, but God proved me wrong, if you want to look at it that way...
I miss the rubber stamps, I got a thumb cross smudge, which isn't bad, but I like the alternate better.

Kristine said...

Someone I met yesterday after mass said this to me, and I think it's incredibly true: "Catholics are like gay people. We're everywhere and people just don't know it."

If not true, it still definitely amused me. Anyways, I think I actually saw you and Dimas there last night. I was going to say hi, but you know, waving you guys down during Communion probably would not have been the most appropriate move.

What high school did you go to? I went to a private Catholic school too, and we had thumb crosses all the time. I've never even heard of the existence of a stamp thing on Ash Wednesday. Hmm, news to me.