ash wednesday kidAfter Ash Wednesday services last week, social media included photos of people trading in a hashtag for an “ashtag” while sporting the traditional cross of ashes on their foreheads. I thought it was clever. It was fun to see social media display people’s excitement about a Christian tradition.

Over the weekend my dad asked if we told our students to wash their ashes off after the service. Confused as to why we’d do that, I responded “no”. He informed me that Archbishop Jackels had published an article in The Witness (An Archdiocese newspaper) asking people to “look for the first opportunity after Mass to wash the ashes off our forehead.” My dad even had a women ask him why he hadn’t done so later in the day. It was news to him.

I had to know more!

I checked out The Witness myself. Sure enough, there it is stating we should wash off our ashes asap. Archbishop explains that just as fasting or giving something up, this is between God and ourselves. We are “not to parade in front of others for them to see”.

I definitely never thought of it that way. When I would run an errand or go to they gym directly after leaving school with ashes on I felt like it was a mark that showed I was a sinner. It was a mark that I was using Lent to better myself. It was a mark that displayed I valued my faith. I never thought about it as a “I went to church. What did you do?” symbol.

The Bible supports Archbishop Jackles’ message (do not tell your right hand what your left is doing), but it’s hard to forget the teachings we received in elementary school to be careful NOT to brush our ashes off. The message I’ve always heard is to let them come off naturally.

Christian readers, where do you stand on this topic? Will you be washing off your ashes next year or posting an #ashtag?


4 thoughts on “#ashtag

  1. I didn’t read the article, so obviously, I didn’t wash mine off after Mass. I went about my daily life, and no one said anything, other than our pediatrician, who told me a story about Ash Wednesday. I can definitely see where the Archbishop is coming from in his request. It does very plainly say as much In Matthew. I guess I saw it the way you do.

    Next year will be different for me because I will likely receive my ashes at a late service next year, so I probably will literally go home to wash my face for bed. 🙂

  2. Disagree.
    I think that is something that is wrong with the church. Just as the “go to your room and pray in secret” is wrong.
    Being humble, having humility is great- but to me, we need to share and spread our faith. Yes, I went to church and I celebrate Lent- consider doing it yourself. Not in a way to be stuck-up, but how are we to evangelize if we pray in secret and wipe our ashes off?! I wear it as a mark of pride in being Catholic (though I really love your reason for the ashes).
    Also, I think it binds people together. To know there are more Catholics and more people celebrating the season the way we are.
    I didn’t read the article, but our faith is not just between us and God. We are a community of believers as well.

    ….and I loved seeing the #ashtag What is wrong with being excited about your faith?! I love the passion of young people.

    • I think we relate on using whatever we can to get youth fired about their faith. If it took the idea of taking a selfie to get them to attend Ash Wednesday, my guess is that they at least took something away from that hour service. Maybe they took enough away to even go back again! 🙂 That’s a win!
      We’ve talked about this in our Bible study to a degree. God wants us to tell the good news. Why are we so reserved about telling the world we went to Mass or did something great for another person? We’re too afraid of what other’s think, but God wants us to spread our message anyway!

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