ash wednesday politics

Ash Wednesday is a crazy day for churches. For us at the University Catholic Center, we have more people come today than any other day in the year– including Sundays and other holy days. We have a Masses or other services (an interfaith service, a Liturgy of the Word service, etc) all day. Between us and our sister parish a block away, there are nine different opportunities to go to church. Ash Wednesday isn’t a holy day of obligation even, people just come and come and come.
A little background- the ashes don’t really do anything; in and of themselves, they don’t mean anything. They’re an outward symbol that reminds us of our baptism (the only other time a cross is made on our foreheads) and that we are mortal (“remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return”). Outside of the context of the service, they’re just ashes. For this reason, at the UCC, we only give out ashes during services and not to the people who walk-in between services asking for ashes.
The 12:05 p.m. Mass was about to begin when four people-an older couple and a middle-aged couple- entered. They were very well-dressed, which is odd for a campus ministry center. The younger gentleman approached Michelle, one of our campus ministers, asking for ashes. She responded that they’ll be distributed after the homily during Mass. By this point, the opening hymn had started and the opening procession had started down the main aisle. After Michelle telling him no, he went to Fr. Dave, as he was walking up in the opening procession, and asked for ashes. Fr. Dave responded, “it is simply impossible. I’m walking up to start the Mass right now- there’s no way we can do that with 700 other people in here.” “Well, when will you give them?” “We have nine different services, but right after the homily.” “But they’re elderly” “I understand- they don’t have to stay for the entire Mass, but ashes will be given out after the homily.”
At this the gentlemen returned to Michelle and asked where the other priest was. Michelle pointed out Fr. Ed and said “he’s playing the piano.” “Where’s Fr. Bob?” “He’ll be here at 2:30 p.m.” “I was told a priest would be here to give me ashes!” “Right after the homily sir” “How long will that be?” “20 minutes or so.”
At this point, he leaves the chapel to our atrium and is calling up a storm on the phone. He and his family did stay until the ashes were given out.
We find out that his staff had contacted another church and they had a priest willing to give him ashes, but he simply went to the wrong church (our place).
What I left out- the gentleman was Texas Speaker of the House Rep. Tom Craddick.
Since we record our Masses to put the homilies online, I have the exchange between him and Fr. Dave on tape. Classic.
Politicians…. ::ugh::






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